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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > AHEAD OR FORWARD    



Whats the difference between "Ahead" and "Forward"? When is it ok to use or not to use them? I have a student that can �t understand the difference when it comes to choosing the correct form in a sentence. Are they just naturally learned or is there a specific rule?

30 Nov 2010      

United States

There are a number of similarities and differences between the two. It might be a good idea to have your student look the definitions up in a dictionary and make a chart with the meanings so s/he can compare them and see which meanings match up and which don�t (forward , ahead). Or looking at collocations (in a corpus, maybe) might help.

For starters, both words can be used as both adjectives and adverbs--at least in American English. (I think in the UK a word functioning as an adverb has to have an -s, e.g. forwards, downwards.) However, forward can also be used as a verb and ahead can�t. (Would you please forward that email to me?)

Some meanings are very similar, e.g. to move ahead/forward. But then, we plan ahead, but we don �t plan forward. (Well, maybe someone does, but it sounds odd to me.)

Other meanings are unique to each word. Ahead can mean to improve one �s position (She helped her friend get ahead in the company.), but you can �t substitute the word forward in that sentence. On the other hand, forward can be used to describe someone or their behavior (He was a very forward young man.), but you can �t use ahead there.

Oh dear, I meant to try to help, but I �m afraid I �ve made things more confusing. Hopefully someone else will have a better explanation.

30 Nov 2010     


The difference between "Ahead" and "Forward"?
(1) AHEAD = Look ahead for danger on the road = looking ahead of you.

(2) FORWARD = Look forwards don �t look behind or the back of you = looking forwards.

As a specific rule and a native speaker, it really depends on the subject or sentence to the rule.

Hope the two examples above gives you an idea.

Maybe someone can explain this more in your forum post.


30 Nov 2010     

United States

Another explanation can be:

Someone can be ahead of you in a line - but not forward of you.
Forward is often a movement - you can move forward or backwards.
(you can also move ahead - but in direction we most often use forward)

Ahead is the same as in front of you

30 Nov 2010     


Thank you all for your answers so far. I think has been very helpful. I think my student will be satisfied with these answers.

30 Nov 2010