Is there any difference between sit next to someone, sit beside someone and sit by someone? For example:

You can sit next to me if you are not comortable there.

You can sit beside me if you are not comortable there.

You can sit by me if you are not comortable there.

  • 1
    "You can sit beside me" implies some intimacy. – Weather Vane Mar 20 '20 at 15:26
  • There's no real difference in meaning, and all your alternatives are about equally common (though any given speaker may strongly prefer and/or avoid some forms). Personally, I think the by version sounds a bit more "dated / dialectal / informal" than the others, a perspective that NGram seems to support. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 20 '20 at 15:26
  • Agreed as to the last one, and "stand by me" means something quite different from "stand next to me." – Weather Vane Mar 20 '20 at 15:27
  • @WeatherVane But does it always? Depends on emphasis, I think. – the-baby-is-you Mar 21 '20 at 1:47

All three of these have similar meaning, and can be used interchangeably in many cases. They have slightly different implications in some contexts:

  • "sit next to me" implies sitting in the very next seat, on one side or the other. How close that is will depend on how closely the seats are spaced, however.
  • "sit beside me" often implies sitting fairly close, possibly touching.
  • "sit by me" just means sitting in my general vicinity. It could be the next seat over, or it could be in front or behind, or even a couple of seats over but still "close", etc.

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