When to Use Beside or Besides

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
Beside and besides are two of the trickiest words in the English language. One small ~'s~' can cause the word to mean something completely different. In this lesson, you will learn the correct usage of when to use beside and besides.

Facebook Envy

Have you ever heard about Facebook Envy? Your friends post endless good news beside amazing pictures and you may wonder why your life is not like that. Actor John Cusack said, "I force people to have coffee with me, just because I don't trust that a friendship can be maintained without any other senses besides a computer or cellphone screen." Maybe French philosopher Albert Camus (1913-1960) said it best when he said, "Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend."

Perhaps being a good friend means calling a friend and asking them how their life is as well.

There are sometimes few people you can count on besides your friends and family.


Beside As A Preposition

Beside is a preposition, a word that helps determine location. Beside is a formal way to say next to or on the side of. In writing, beside sounds more professional and represents higher education. However, in nearly all speaking, most people would say next to.

  • In the room there was a bed, and beside the bed was a night table. (next to the bed)
  • He came and sat beside me as we watched the sun go down. (next to him)
  • Beside the secret door there is a hidden button. Push the button to open the door. (next to the door)

Beside can also function comparatively, meaning the same in value.

  • You work stands amongst the best beside your colleagues. (when compared to)
  • She took her rightful place beside the national heroes of her country. (the same in quality)


Besides As a Preposition

When besides is functioning as a preposition, it means in addition to, and sometimes only or but, and is followed by a noun.

  • Besides John, Sue is also going to the party (in addition to John, Sue is going)
  • I am vegetarian. Do you have any other food besides meat? (something else instead of meat)
  • No one besides the government knows if there really is alien life. (only the government knows)

Besides As An Adverb

Besides as an adverb, which modifies a verb, means also, as well as, or furthermore. In this case, it is usually followed by a comma (,) but not always.

  • I don't think it's a good idea to go. Besides, it is getting late. (also, it is late)
  • That's enough food, thank you. Besides, I do not have room on my plate. (additionally, my plate is full)
  • She was happy to go for a walk and she wanted more exercise besides. (she also wanted exercise: this word order is not commonly used)

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