4

Beside is the more popular usage, but I have seen many references and usages of besides, as well. Beside is a preposition, and besides can be either a preposition or an adverb.

Which would be the correct usage?

  • 4
    I think that use of besides in the phrase besides the point probably originated from a misheard instance of beside the point. Technically, besides the point means "in addition to or aside from the point," while idiomatically beside the point means "irrelevant." (Logically, beside the point would seem to mean "next to the point," but that's the surprising world of idioms for you.) – Sven Yargs Sep 22 '15 at 22:39
9

I agree entirely with Sven Yargs except that I think, 'beside the point' means to be 'off the point' rather than next to it.

Example: At the Olympics, the winners stand on the podium. If you stand beside the podium then you are off it.

Answer

I say that 'beside the point' is correct for the reasons given by Sven Yargs. In particular, quote - Technically, besides the point means "in addition to or aside from the point," while idiomatically beside the point means "irrelevant."

The following ngram backs up this choice. I notice that the alternative version appears to be there as well, however on reading the associated quotes, I see that is used in a different sense.

Google ngram: beside the point,besides the point

enter image description here

  • I know the usage and meaning, I would like to know which phrasing is correct. – JohnP Sep 23 '15 at 0:10
  • Okay, I'll make that more explicit. – chasly from UK Sep 23 '15 at 0:16
  • Good use of Ngram here to convey the main point. – Sven Yargs Sep 23 '15 at 0:50
  • Google for "beside the point". – rogermue Sep 23 '15 at 1:48
1

The most basic explanation for this topic is the following;

If someone is making an argument and you understood that argument but came up with a different conclusion, then your conclusion is beside the point. In other words, your conclusion is not necessarily irrelevant, you simply missed the point. Often times a simple misunderstanding of some details or nuance. You took the same path but somehow didn't arrive on the same point.

Example:

  • We should help them so we can receive rewards.

  • That's beside the point of helping.

Now if you argued against someone's argument and arrived on the same conclusion, then your argument is besides the point. Most of the time, this means you're arguing semantics. Other times you simply want attention to your path that lead to the point instead of focusing on the path presented by someone else. You arrive on the same point but took a different path.

Example:

  • We need to help them because we're good people.

  • Isn't helping people about selflessness?

  • That's besides the point of being good.

So it really depends on the context of your intention and what you're trying to convey. I hope this helps.

  • It is not English to say "That's beside the point of helping" and "That's besides the point of being good." They are both extremely unnatural and I find it hard to make any sense of them. The phrase is "That is beside [never "besides"] the point." The expression ends with the word "point". It never continues with "of VERB-ing" or "of NOUN". I think Enzovic is not native English, as is also suggested by his incorrect construction "arrive on the same point" and "arrive on the same conclusion" (change "on" to "at"). – Stephen F Sep 30 '19 at 22:21

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