Beside and Besides

By Maeve Maddox

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Anwar wants to know the difference between beside and besides.

Old English had the phrase be sidan, “by the side of.” OE side meant the flanks of a person, or the long part of anything. By 1200 the phrase was written as one word and used as both adverb and preposition.

One meaning for beside in Middle English was “outside.” This is the sense in the expression “to be beside oneself”: He was beside himself with worry. He wasn’t “next to” himself, he was “outside” himself.

In modern usage beside is used chiefly as a preposition, while besides can be either a preposition or an adverb.

The preposition beside means “next to”:
Joan’s house stood beside the church.
I like to sit beside my friend.

As a preposition, besides means “in addition to”:

Besides the administrators, the teachers were allowed to state their views.
Besides the prize money, Charlie won a trip to the Bahamas.

Besides often introduces a noun clause:
Besides what you said, we must consider what she said.

As an adverb, besides means “in addition, as well as”:
There is enough for us and all our friends besides.

Besides can introduce a further consideration:
I don’t think I’ll attend the conference because it comes at an inconvenient time of year for me. Besides, I can’t really afford it.

Sometimes besides is a synonym for “except” or “excluding”:
Besides him, everyone liked the idea.

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1 Response to “Beside and Besides”

  • Aron

    This is just great, I learn a lot from this blog.

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