Mini-Lesson Monday, Lesson #215 (Part 1): ‘Besides vs beside’, ‘Always vs alway’, ‘Forwards vs Forward’ – Different meanings and usages

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between words like ‘beside’ and ‘besides’?

💡 Believe me, one little letter makes all the difference in what the word means and how it can be used!

Today’s Lesson in two parts looks at 3 ‘mistakable’ pairs of words:

  • Besides vs beside
  • Always vs alway
  • Forwards vs forward

Since some of these words are not as commonly used today, I knew I would need to find a classic that has stood the test of time if I wanted to illustrate our Lesson well. 📚

I found the perfect novel in one of the first novels ever written in English: Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, Or Virtue Rewarded, which was published in 1740.

📜 It tells the story of an attractive servant girl whose master tries to seduce her into becoming his mistress in exchange for a rich and comfortable life. Pamela resists, but struggles with the loneliness of her position. She finds relief and comfort in writing letters to her parents, and it is through these letters that we discover what happens to Pamela in the end …

For now we will focus primarily on covering the meaning and usages of ‘besides vs beside’ in this first Part of our lesson. (In Part 2 – see next post – we will cover the differences between ‘always vs alway’ and ‘forwards vs forward’).

BESIDES VS BESIDE

📙 ‘Besides, I really am concerned, that my master should cast away a thought upon such a poor creature as me; for, besides the disgrace, it has quite turned his temper …’

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

Besides – adverb and preposition

✍️ ‘Besides’ can be an adverb that means ‘furthermore’, ‘additionally’, or ‘moreover’. It adds extra information to a sentence or a line of thought; sometimes that extra information is even more important than what went before.

Because of this, we often see it being used to introduce an afterthought. The speaker has made a main point and finished it with a breath (or full-stop/period in writing). Then a new idea comes to mind that would complement (add to) the first point, so the speaker begins with ‘besides’ or ‘and besides’:

📙 ‘I am glad you did not tell him the occasion of my coming away; for if my fellow-servants should guess, it were better so, than to have it from you or me. Besides, I really am concerned, that my master should cast away a thought upon such a poor creature as me …’

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

Or,

📙 ‘But now I will tell you what has befallen me; and yet, how shall you receive it? Here is no honest John to carry my letters to you! And, besides, I am watched in all my steps; and no doubt shall be, till my hard fate may ripen his wicked projects for my ruin.’

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

✍️ It can also be a preposition that means ‘in addition to’, ‘as well as’, or ‘apart from’.

📙 And when I had finished my letter, I put it under the toilet in my late lady’s dressing-room, whither nobody comes but myself and Mrs. Jervis, besides my master; but when I came up again to seal it, to my great concern, it was gone; and Mrs. Jervis knew nothing of it; and nobody knew of my master’s having been near the place in the time; so I have been sadly troubled about it …

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

📙 ‘I really am concerned, that my master should cast away a thought upon such a poor creature as me; for, besides the disgrace, it has quite turned his temper …’

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

📙 ‘He then went into his closet, which is his library, and full of rich pictures besides; a noble apartment, though called a closet, and next the private garden, into which it has a door that opens. I shut the parlour door, as he bid me; but stood at it irresolute.’

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

..

Beside

‘Beside’ (without the ‘s’ at the end) is a preoposition that refers to a physical location. It means ‘nearby’, ‘next to’, ‘close to’, ‘at the side of’, and ‘by’.

Think of it as to ‘be’ [at the] ‘side’ of something.

Although Samuel Richardson did not use ‘beside’ in this particular novel, he did use some synonymous words which we could substitute with ‘beside’ without changing the meaning:

📙 ‘I have removed my papers from under the rose-bush; for I saw the gardener begin to dig near that spot; and I was afraid he would find them.’

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

This could become:

✒️ I have removed my papers from under the rose-bush; for I saw the gardener begin to dig beside that spot; and I was afraid he would find them.

📙 “That’s a pretty sort of wild flower, that grows yonder, near the elm …”

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

This could become:

✒️ That’s a pretty sort of wild flower, that grows yonder, beside the elm …

Remember: ⚠️ ‘beside’ refers mostly to a physical location, so we cannot substitute it for ‘near’ in the sentence below:

📙 ‘About two hours after, which was near eleven o’clock, Mrs. Jewkes and I went up to go to bed …’

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

It is also used in a few fixed expressions such as

✍️ ‘beside the point’ – something is not connected to the main point being discussed; it is not relevant.

Or,

✍️ ‘beside myself/herself/himself, etc.’ – be so emotionally shaken by some event that the person behaves unlike their usual character (usually showing great distress, anger, rage, etc.)

📙 ‘And the woman, surely, was beside herself with passion and insolence, when she wrote me such a letter; for well she knew I would not bear it.’

– Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

👉 In Part 2 of this Lesson we will look at two other word-pairs that are often confused with one another …