“Sure we should go in?” I asked Mary as we walked along the wall of a high school.

Obviously, they aren't walking on top of the wall. What's the correct way to describe that they were walking beside the wall?

  • 1
    What's wrong with "walking beside the wall"? That seems to explain the situation admirably.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:10
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach I thought "beside" wouldn't imply "along"?
    – alex
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:13
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    If you walk beside a wall, but it's not along it, you are walking away from the wall and only beside it instantaneously. If you carry on walking, you're no longer beside it. To walk beside a wall, it must be along it.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:14
  • 2
    Alongside is another possibility, so there is more than answer; there may be other prepositions which work. It's on-topic, I think (just). Up to you whether you keep it.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:18
  • 1
    'Beside' is fine, but so is 'along'. Unless there's context to indicate otherwise, readers wouldn't assume they're on top of the wall. Consider 'walking along the river' -- what's your first thought there?
    – Jim Mack
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:20

2 Answers 2


The comments are illuminating, but the question deserves an answer, I think.

"Along" clearly conveys the relationship between the walkers and the wall, as do both "alongside" and "beside."

Because prepositional phrases are often idiomatic, there are few rules beyond common sense and logic to guide a writer to the "correct" preposition. The community of traditional users of English has determined over time which usages are "preferred." The researcher is thus left with lists of idioms.

Wood (1967) offers a potentially useful reference, English Prepositional Idioms. A more immediately accessible (if lengthy) resource can be found at http://www.advanced-english-grammar.com/list-of-prepositional-phrases.html


The phrase that would differ least from what you wrote would be "walked along by the wall".

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