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These boxes should not have any other boxes at their sides

What are the correct words to use here? Boxes are being placed side by side, but some of them must not have any boxes to their left or to their right.

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    Can they not have other boxes next to them because of their shape?
    – Mixolydian
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 15:46
  • @Mixolydian Not because of shape necessarily, but maybe due to a fire hazzard. Or it could be because of an ugly colour match when decorating the shelves at home. With "they don't allow it" I mean that "due to their presence it shouldn't/can't/musn't be done". I've updated the sentence in the question to avoid such misunderstanding.
    – Steeven
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 16:05

2 Answers 2

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I think I would phrase it like any of the following:

These boxes should not have any other boxes next to them.

These boxes should not have any other boxes adjacent to them.

These boxes should not have any other boxes alongside them.

Or, if you're differentiating left/right from front/back/over/below (as in, only left/right is no good), then you could just say:

These boxes should not have any other boxes to their right or left.

None of your three prepositional phrases sound natural to me. Something about the plural, "sides," used in these phrases, sounds strange to me, even though it might be grammatically acceptable.

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I would say

These boxes should not have any boxes beside them

Or more likely given as an order:

Don't place any boxes beside these boxes

The possibilities in the question are fine grammatically but sound unnatural and sort of like you're talking about people's sides rather than boxes beside boxes.

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