Are "next to", beside, and "near" synonyms or there is a difference between them?

For example in the following sentences:

1) The refrigerator is next to the window in the kitchen.

2) The refrigerator is near the window in the kitchen.

3) The refrigerator is beside the window in the kitchen.

Based on my search I really didn't find an difference between such sentences. I want to be sure that since I'm writing down synonyms for my personal practice enriching the vocabulary in writing and speech. So far, I used to use "near" rather than "next to" and "beside".

  • 1
    You forgot "by", and I don't think linking the prepositions to dictionaries is enough to say that you have done some research. But better than nothing I suppose. – Mari-Lou A Mar 11 '18 at 17:47
  • You need to "show" why this question is relevant, and cannot be easily answered by a dictionary (which it can't). – Mari-Lou A Mar 11 '18 at 17:52
  • What @Mari-Lou said. There will be contexts where any of next to, beside, near, by could be replaced by one of those alternatives. But it would be next to impossible to list all the contexts where that can't be done (in this very sentence, for example, next to could be replaced by near, but not beside). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 11 '18 at 17:53
  • I edited my post. You can find additional information there. – Judicious Allure Mar 11 '18 at 18:09
  • You could simply say "The .... is by/next to/near/beside the kitchen window" – Mari-Lou A Mar 11 '18 at 18:23

In the context of physical location, they are almost synonymous. There are some minor differences, but exact usage is probably more a function of personal or regional variation than any "standard" difference.

"Beside" or "next to" would imply that the refrigerator is immediately adjacent to the window, while "near" or "by" simply says that if you look around near the window, you should find it.

I would also tend to use these terms with a modifier , as in "right next to" or "over [there] near", but that's probably just my personal preference.

If you qualify the preposition with "right", you emphasize that the object is immediately adjacent, while "somewhere" indicates that it's simply in the vicinity.

"Beside" is the least natural feeling of the forms, at least for my personal idiolect. I would almost never say it without some form of qualifier.

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