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My friend used this sentence:

I wouldn’t be able to sleep at nights if she is sleeping aside me.

Is the usage of the word aside correct here? I always thought “sleeping besides me” is the right way.

Please help me understand.

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Besides means "apart from, in addition to". The word for "next to" is beside. – RegDwigнt Dec 25 '12 at 22:51
As an aside, this question has me beside myself. – J.R. Dec 26 '12 at 3:46
Off topic: critique request. – MετάEd Dec 26 '12 at 16:35
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Neither aside me nor besides me is correct. The first is ungrammatical, and the second one means something else: it means “other than me”.

You must use beside me if you mean that she sleeps by your side.

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Although there do seem to be some historical occurrences of aside used this way, I agree that beside is the only acceptable one now. – Rory Alsop Dec 25 '12 at 23:29
If it meant anything, ? she was sleeping besides me would mean 'as well as me'. – TimLymington Dec 25 '12 at 23:41
@Rory what's more, Wiktionary lists besides with the meaning "beside", as "obsolete" yet meaning number one. I wonder where they got if from — no other dictionary I have checked this far does that. Though Shakespeare Search does turn up a couple cites that seem relevant. – RegDwigнt Dec 26 '12 at 5:53

Aside and beside have nearly the same core meaning, i.e. "to one side of", but they are different parts of speech: aside is an adverb, beside is a preposition. In Standard Written English, the construction 'she was [action]ing [relative location] me' requires you to use a preposition to express the [relative location]. Thus, if you use aside here, that is formally incorrect. To a native speaker, this particular incorrectness will sound archaic rather than flat-out wrong, therefore it can be used deliberately for effect. However, deliberate archaism is a difficult effect to achieve successfully in English: even stylists of great skill (E. R. Eddison comes to mind) have had it fall flat on them.

Besides is a related but different word, which means "in addition to" or "other than". It is not formally incorrect to say "she was sleeping besides me", but it doesn't mean what your friend wanted to say, and it is not the most natural way to say what it does mean (in context, I would probably say "I wouldn't be able to sleep at night (if/unless) she were asleep too").

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According to the OED, aside means to one side; out of the way:

he pushed his plate aside | they stood aside to let a car pass | she must put aside all her antagonistic feelings.

Besides on the other hand means in addition to; apart from. So that doesn't seem to be the word you are looking for.

I have no other family besides my parents.

I think the word you are looking for, as others have mentioned, is beside which means next to; at the side of:

She sat beside my at the front seat.

Note: Some dictionaries register beside to mean both in addition to and next to. So you can use beside to mean both beside and besides but not the other way around.

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