Beside vs. Besides—How to Use Each

Beside and besides are quite commonly confused with one another despite their different definitions. Even though they are spelled almost the same, they are not used in the same way.

The Basic Difference Between “Beside” and “Besides”

Beside, without the s, tells us the location of something. Besides, on the other hand, means “in addition,” “in addition to,” “moreover,” or “as well,” depending on context.

Using “Beside” in a Sentence

Beside is a preposition that means next to or at the side of. The preposition beside physically places two nouns side by side.

Kaia and Rhea sit beside each other in the orchestra’s first violin section.

I place my dream journal beside my bed every night.

The barn beside the farmer’s house was falling down.

Will you sit beside me at dinner?

Though it would sound a little more informal, these sentences would be grammatically identical and consistent in meaning if beside is replaced with next to.

Kaia and Rhea sit next to each other in the orchestra’s first violin section.

I place my dream journal next to my bed every night.

The barn next to the farmer’s house was falling down.

Will you sit next to me at dinner?

Using “Besides” in a Sentence

Besides can be used either as a preposition meaning “in addition” or an adverb meaning “moreover,” and it is a little less stiff and formal to use than those two terms.

I dislike fishing; besides , I don’t even own a boat.

Because the tone of this sentence is conversational (not like an essay, for example), it would sound stuffy if we replaced besides with its synonym, moreover.

I dislike fishing; moreover , I don’t own a boat.

A middle ground might be to use what’s more.

I dislike fishing, and what’s more , I don’t own a boat.

If you do choose to go the less formal route, know that having besides at the beginning of a sentence is perfectly acceptable.

I dislike fishing. Besides , I don’t own a boat.

The same holds true when besides is used as in addition. Besides is the more conversational and less formal of the two terms.

Do you have any M&Ms besides the green ones?

Do you have any M&Ms in addition to the green ones?

“That’s Beside the Point”—How to Use It

Beside the point is a common idiom that means “unimportant” or “not relevant to the matter at hand”. Many people incorrectly use besides the point, which is understandable since both besides and beside the point can crop up when a topic is being argued or reasoned through.

He did steal the diamond, but that is besides the point . He stole my heart!

No one wants to be guilty of a real crime and a grammar crime when using besides (that is to say, in addition). Use beside instead.

He did steal the diamond, but that is beside the point . He stole my heart!

If you feel grammatically empowered after learning how to use beside and besides, read about these other commonly confused words.

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