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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
A middle ground might be to use what’s more.
If you do choose to go the less formal route, know that having besides at the beginning of a sentence is perfectly acceptable.
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 in addition to
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.
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.
If you feel grammatically empowered after learning how to use beside and besides, read about these other commonly confused words.