If you have ever been in a heated argument with someone, chances are you have heard the phrase “that’s besides the point”. But should they have said “that is beside the point” instead? In this post, we’ll teach you how to use this idiom correctly & break down the difference between beside vs besides in more detail.
Which Is Correct: Besides or Beside The Point?
The correct usage of this popular idiom or phrase is beside the point. Although this is one of the most frequently used phrases in the English language, the two words beside and besides are commonly confused. Just like with the words yet and but, writers incorrectly assume these words are interchangeable.
Consider these examples:
- Mark went to jail 10 years ago, but that is beside the point. He is a great man now! [CORRECT]
- Mark went to jail 10 years ago, but that is besides the point. He is a great man now! [INCORRECT]
This phrase is most commonly used to state that something that happened in the past is no longer relevant today. In other words, it is used to reference irrelevant information. This spelling rule is very similar to doctors appointment or doctor’s appointment. Adding just a simple letter -S can make a difference!
How To Use “Beside The Point”
As we already mentioned, the phrase “Beside the point” is used to refer to something that is not relevant to the topic being discussed. The word beside is a preposition like the words For me or To me. We use this idiom most commonly to show that something is not important or relevant to the discussion.
- “Although your suggestion may be a good one, it’s beside the point because it will cost me far too much money.”
- “I understand your concern, but it’s beside the point. We need to focus on what is most important to growing the company.”
- “Your personal feelings about the matter are beside the point. We need to keep emotions out of our decision and do what is best for all of us.”
Just like we saw with our analysis of which vs what, spelling can totally change the use case and meaning of a sentence or word!
To further illustrate this spelling rule, review these additional 5 sentences. Just like with the words in regards or in regard, it is very easy to make a silly spelling mistake!
- “I know you’re upset about the situation, but your anger is beside the point. The most important thing is that we find a peaceful resolution.”
- “Your political beliefs are beside the point in this discussion. Politics have no place in workplace discussions.”
- “Although I understand your frustration, bringing up unrelated issues is beside the point. If we want a resolution, we need to stay on topic.”
- “I appreciate your input, but your personal experience with a similar situation is beside the point. We do not want previous bias to impact our team decision going forward.”
- “Your opinions about the matter are beside the point. You simply are not educated on this subject so your opinion is not relevant.”
Just like we saw in our analysis of nana or nanna, adding one letter can totally change a word! Pay close attention to your spelling.
Comparison of Beside vs Besides
The words beside and besides are frequently confused by writers. By analyzing Google’s ngram data, we can see that beside is used far more commonly in published writing. However, just like we saw when analyzing the words unto vs onto, we can see their popularity varies over the decades!
And it is easy to see why! They are spelled only one letter apart. But these words have different definitions.
Beside – Most commonly used to refer to a location of something.
- Mark was standing beside Tom in the lunch line.
Besides – Most commonly used to mean “in addition”.
- Tom hates basketball; besides , I didn’t want him to play with us anyway!
To put things simply, idioms are phrases that have a meaning that is different from the literal meanings of its words. Idioms and metaphors are used to convey abstract meaning! These are very popular for daily conversation.
- The most popular idiom “it’s raining cats and dogs” means that it is pouring rain (heavily). This has nothing to do with cats or dogs!
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally speaking, besides can be used as a preposition or an adverb. As a preposition, it means in addition to; as an adverb, it means apart from.
The idiom “to the point” means to cut out the fluff and clearly state your message.
The term beside the point dates all the way back to the 16th century. So this phrase is far from new!
The Bottom Line
Now you know that the correct usage is beside the point. Although many writers many not even realize they are making this simple spelling mistake, it is technically incorrect. In spoken conversation, this is likely less of a big deal. However, if you’re writing formally all spelling and grammar rules should ne followed! If you need some extra help with this, consider using our tool to check grammar for free and make writing easy.