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Is there any difference between sideways and to the side? For example:

Stop leaning sideways/to the side!

The car in front of us suddenly moved sideways/to the side.

I feel that in the examples above sideways and to the side are interchangeble, I am not sure though. Could you give some examples where only one of the phrases is possible?

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Have you ever seen a dog try to carry a long stick sideways through a narrow gate? That is, the dog holds the stick horizontally (rather than, say, dragging it lengthwise). Here, “to the side” would not be meaningful.

If a car moves “to the side”, we infer the nearest side of the road. But in your first example I think “to the side” is less good than “to one side”, because there's no pre-specified or preferred side.

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