What is the difference between beside and besides?

English is an intriguing language; a slight modification in a word’s spelling changes its meaning completely! Take the word beside, for instance. Adding “s” makes it besides, which is totally different from beside in meaning and usage.

What does beside mean?

Beside is a preposition that means ‘next to’ or ‘at the side of.’ It is typically used to refer to a location. For instance,

  • The books are kept beside the bag.
  • Tom always sat beside Harry. 

What does besides mean?

Besides is also a preposition. It means ‘other than,’ ‘in addition to,’ or ‘along with’ someone or something. For instance,

  • My sister plays the guitar professionally besides practicing medicine. 
  • Besides Sam, who else wants to dance?

Here are two examples of how to use beside and besides correctly in academic and technical writing.

Example 1:

Incorrect: Beside testing the reaction of ketones, we tested the reaction of aldehyde. 

Correct: Besides testing the reaction of ketones, we tested the reaction of aldehyde.

Both the reaction of ketones and the reaction of aldehyde were tested. So besides (in addition to) is the correct preposition to use here.

Example 2:

Incorrect: We carefully placed the tubes with reactive components besides the burner.

Correct: We carefully placed the tubes with reactive components beside the burner.

The tubes have been placed in a specific location, i.e., next to the burner. So the preposition beside (at the side of) is the correct preposition choice.

Now that you know the difference between beside and besides, we are sure you will ace your writing by confidently choosing the right word and being contextually correct—always!

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