foreword or forward?

Before I discuss the difference between forward and foreword, let’s take a brief look at the prefixes for and fore.

Golfers shout “Fore!” to alert people who are ahead of them that a ball is coming their way. (For an interesting article about the history of “Fore!” see

In general, for- (as in forget, forfeit, forbid, forbear, and forgive) means to go without (or lose) something, and fore- (as in foresee, foretell, forewarn, forefather, and foreplay) means to go before (in place or time).

The distinction has largely been lost in the words forego and forgo, which can now be used interchangeably. However, I will argue for the best practice:

Use forego and its variants to mean “to go before or precede”:

As you can see from the foregoing discussion, investing in the company at this time is not recommended.

It was rigged. The outcome was a foregone conclusion.

Use forgo and its variants to mean “to abstain or do without”:

I need to lose ten pounds, so I will forgo dessert.

By forgoing treatment, you put your health at risk.

The foreword is what comes before the main body of a book. It is a short introduction that is usually written by someone other than the author.

The word forward can be used as an adjective (“near, at, or belonging to the front part“), an adverb (“to or toward what is in front”), a noun (“a player who plays at the front [of] the team’s formation near the opponent’s goal”), and a verb (“to send or ship onward”).

As forward suggests movement “toward the front,” it is easy to see why people mistakenly believe the front part of a book might be a forward.

Remember that a book is made up of words and the section that comes before the chapters is called a FOREWORD!



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