“Anyways” at the beginning of a sentence usually indicates that the speaker has resumed a narrative thread: “Anyways, I told Matilda that guy was a lazy bum before she ever married him.” It also occurs at the end of phrases and sentences, meaning “in any case“: “He wasn’t all that good-looking anyways.”
A slightly less rustic quality can be imparted to these sentences by substituting the more formal anyway. Neither expression is a good idea in formal written English. The two-word phrase “any way” has many legitimate uses, however: “Is there any way to prevent the impending disaster?”
Anyways, often spelled any ways, is a dialectal variant of any wise, ‘in any way/manner’, and as such is recorded from the 16th century, in such august tomes as the 1611 King James Bible and the 1560 Book of Common Prayer: “All those who are any ways afflicted…in mind, body, or spirit.” As an adverb, its formation from any way by the addition of the genitive -s is perfectly regular: we got always from alway in the same manner. This use of anyways, along with the use of any wise/anywise, is now obsolete.
However, the use of this genitive form instead of the more usual conjunctive adverb anyway still survived in certain dialectal uses, among them New England dialects. Opinions about the use vary; the fact that Noah Webster recorded anywise as “sometimes used adverbially” in 1828, but did not record anyways, may suggest that he disapproved of anyways, although it’s also possible that he never heard it used or chose not to focus on the obscure dialectal variant. The 1914 edition of The Century Dictionary records both meanings of anyways, and calls them “colloquial in both senses.” The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary calls the conjunctive use “dialectal or illiterate.”
So we’re left with the fact that the use has actually been around for quite a while (at least the late 19th century, and likely to be much earlier), and that it has never been considered standard. However, as a dialectal variant, it is not incorrect; it is simply a less frequent use. I have my own theory, completely unsubstantiated, that there’s a Cockney connection lurking in there somewhere. If you’ve ever heard anyone with that accent, you’ll know that anyways is pronounced like anywise. There just has to be a link between the British settlers of New England and the regional pronunciations of their mother country.
anyways Annoying misuse of the word ‘anyway.” Probably part of the language now, just to annoy curmudgeons like me.
So, she’s all “Anyways, let’s go shopping at Target! ” by octopod May 30, 2004
Anyways misuse of anyway, never the less, an excuse to change topics. by shitastic Oct 11, 2004
From the UVic Writer’s Guide:
Anyway means “anyhow” or “in any case.” “Anyways” is a strictly colloquial expression, as ungrammatical in written English as “anyhows” because adverbs cannot be plural.
Well, anyway, it seems that “anyways” any way you use it is colloquial at best, substandard at worst. Am I nit-picking?
Teacher Jô Piantavinha