Besides as a preposition meaning in addition to

Loob

Senior Member
English UK
This previous thread made me think that my usage of "besides" might be more restricted than other people's.

I could say "Besides English, he speaks French and Spanish" - meaning something like "Apart from English, he speaks French and Spanish" or "Leaving aside English, he speaks French and Spanish".

But I couldn't say "He speaks English besides French and Spanish" meaning "He speaks English in addition to French and Spanish".

Is it only me?:)
 
  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    I think the problem is more that the sentence is so short as to be ambiguous and "besides" can mean a number things. I don't have any problem with, say, "He speaks English and French, besides his native Spanish."
     

    baldpate

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    But I couldn't say "He speaks English besides French and Spanish" meaning "He speaks English in addition to French and Spanish".
    If I spoke the phrase "He speaks English besides French and Spanish", there would be a mental comma before "besides", probably articulated by a very short pause: hence meaning exactly the same as your "Besides English, he speaks French and Spanish"
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks, everyone:).

    Yes, I think it is something to do with my need for a pause/comma. I'll keep pondering!
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    It seems a besides prepositional phrase needs to modify more than just a noun. It is more adverbial than, for example, a beside prepositional phrase:

    ... on the table beside the bed:tick:
    ... on the table besides the bed:cross:
    I see the table besides the bed.:tick:(= "Besides the bed, I see the table.")
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks, Forero:).

    Interestingly, I couldn't say your third sentence either, though I could say (with no pause/comma) I see two other tables besides the one by the bed.

    It seems that, for me, "besides" has a strong flavour of "other than"....
     
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