The key difference between by and beside is that by is a preposition that can indicate time, place or an agent of action whereas bedside only indicates a place.
By and beside are two prepositions in the English language. Both these prepositions can indicate the location of an entity. In this sense, they have the same meaning, i.e., next to. The preposition beside only indicates place or location whereas preposition by has various meanings and uses.
What Does By Mean?
The preposition by has multiple meanings and uses. Some of these meanings are as follows:
Ex: I’ll be there by 10 am.
Agent of Action
Ex: Three terrorists were killed by the army.
Manner of Action
Ex: You can turn off the alarm by pressing this button.
Place or Location
Ex: There is a lovely cabin by the lake.
In this article, we are mostly interested in this last meaning, i.e., place or location. By means ‘close to’, or ‘at the side of’. Beside is another synonym for by. In this sense, there is no difference between by and beside. Let’s look at some more example sentences to clarify this.
Their stranded vehicle was found by the roadside.
He built a small cottage by the river.
There’s a nice café by the public library.
However, it is important to note that we can use by to refer to ‘movement past something’; for example, “He drove by her house yesterday”. The above sentence means that he drove past her house.
What Does Beside Mean?
Beside is a preposition that indicates location. It is a synonym for ‘next to’ or ‘at the side of the’. Beside is a rather formal preposition. Thus, it is not commonly used in day-to-day conversations. Some example sentences with this preposition are as follows:
I kept the book on the small table beside the bed.
The photographer asked him to sit beside the principal.
He didn’t notice her husband, who was sitting beside her.
She chose the small room beside the kitchen.
Moreover, beside also acts as a linking adverb to mean ‘in addition’. For example, “What other authors do you like beside from Agatha Christie?” However, some people argue the correct usage for this function is not beside, but besides. However, as Oxford dictionary usage notes indicate “there is a little logical basis for such a view”, and most people use these words interchangeably.
What is the Similarity Between By and Beside?
- Both prepositions have the same meaning when referring to a place or location
- For example, “cottage beside the lake” has the same meaning as “cottage by the lake”.
What is the Difference Between By and Beside?
By is a preposition and an adverb, that is able to convey numerous meanings while beside is a preposition indicating location. By can indicate time, place or an agent of action, etc. while bedside only indicates a place. Therefore, this is the difference between by and beside.
Summary – By vs Beside
In summary, both by and beside can indicate the location of an entity. In this sense, they have the same meaning. However, the preposition beside only indicates place or location whereas the preposition by has various meanings and uses. Hence, this is the key difference between by and beside.