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1)There were several street vendors selling snacks by the footpath.

2)Having warm tea by the tea cart ear my university was my favorite pastime.

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    The vendors were beside the footpath. The tea drinker could have been standing at, near or beside, the cart. (I assume that ear is a typo for near!) Commented May 27, 2021 at 14:22

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In both of these cases, it's a preposition meaning near/close to.

In 1, the street vendors are near the footpath.

In 2, the writer drank (had) their tea near the tea cart.

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