Using “a ways to go” is grammatically correct, but it must also have a numeric agreement in the plural form. Therefore, “a way to go” is appropriate for singular agreement. The same rules apply when you want to add the adjective “long” before “way(s).”
Understanding how to use the phrases shows the nuance of informality versus professionalism. Plus, it demonstrates knowledge of how to illustrate a length of time when referring to the words.
Defining “a Ways to Go”
When you use the phrase, “a ways to go” as part of a sentence, it indicates a distance or achievement that will take more time. People use this in reference to travel, project completions, personal milestones, reaching goals, and other such sentiments.
Using Either “a Way to Go” or “a Ways to Go”
When using either “a way to go” or “a ways to go,” it is important to note that “a ways” is more common in the United States and “a way to go” is common in Britain.
- American: They still have a ways to go before they reach Morocco.
- British: They still have a way to go before they reach Morocco.
- American: She worked on the paper for several hours and she still has a ways to go.
- British: She worked on the paper for several hours and she still has a way to go.
Note that “a ways to go” is used for informal speech with friends and acquaintances. The correct form that is best in business settings and speaking before an audience is “a way to go”.
Adding “Long” to “a Ways to Go”
The same rules above will apply if you add the adjective, “long” to the phrase.
They still have a long ways to go before they reach Morocco.
She worked on the paper for several hours and she still has a long way to go.
Nuances When Adding “Long”
When you reference how someone or something has a “way to go,” you indicate there’s still much work to do or a large distance before reaching a final destination or goal. But, when you add “long” to the phrase, you are giving a nuanced approach to elongate the time it will take.
Using “a way to go” or “a ways to go” are both grammatically correct phrases. You can use them interchangeably for informal speech. But, when in a professional setting, you want to ensure you use proper numeric agreement.