The quill whizzed across the parchment between them, back and forward as though it were skating.

I've never seen "back and forward" before. I doubt if it means the same as "back and forth". Is there any difference between these two phrases?

  • 4
    I would call this careless writing by Ms Rowling, and would prefer "backward and forward", which means the same as the set phrase "back and forth". Dec 16, 2018 at 12:13
  • Please don't be misled by cliches. It's true "back and forth" and "backward and forward" are well recognized, as is "backwards and forwards" but none of them follows any written rule. They just happen to be well recognized. "Back and forward" is no kind of "inconsistent combination" of anything. It's simply the author's personal choice of style. Since JK Rowling is almost certainly the most successful writer in history, why would anyone ever question her style choices? Jun 14, 2020 at 22:01

1 Answer 1


The phrases "back and forth" and "backward and forward" mean basically the same thing. The phrase "back and forward" seems to be an inconsistent combination of the two phrases. This particular phraseology may have been unintentional, as this seems to be the only time in the seven books that the author used it. Throughout the rest of the books, "backward and forward" is used approximately 27 times and "back and forth" is used once.

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