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By a "directional word", I mean those such as backward, forward, toward, etc. Words specifically indicative of direction of movement. Consider these sentences:

I walked toward the objective.

The car rolled slowly forward from the garage.

These sentences are clear and grammatically correct. However, I frequently see (and hear) sentences constructed like this:

The horse galloped towards the barn.

The unicyclist spun over backwards after an ill-considered flourish.

Is there a difference in meaning when these words take a plural ending? Is this another example of infuriatingly lazy English? Is it merely a stylistic choice?

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