Consider the grouping: Near, Nearly, Close to, Next to. Who does NOT belong here?

I drafted this discussion for another student and figured it would be a nice discussion to share. Close and near are nearly identical in meaning; that is to say, they are very close in meaning. (nearly = almost = very close to being identical; nearly refers to exactness, not distance away from)

By degrees, I would rank these expressions of “closeness” or “nearness” like this:

A is near B. (A is not far from B. A and B are close.)
A is close to B. (A is even closer to B.)
A is next to B. (A is very very close to B. They are almost touching each other.)

Notice that when close and next are prepositions with an object, they are always followed by the preposition “to” making them two-word prepositions like “because of”.

next to means adjacent to as in side by side. Sometimes we emphasize this by saying “right next to” as in “immediately next to” but the meanings are pretty much (nearly) the same.

  1. “Next to”
    A is next to B in the alphabet. My house is next to his.
    What do you live next to? I live next to a school.
    Note: B is next. (There is no “to”. This is talking about sequence as in next in line, coming up soon.)
    We having a saying: Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  2. Near can be an adverb or a preposition.
    Near is used as an adjective only in the phrase “near-term” that I can think of. Near-term means “close to the present time; not far in the future”.

    Do you live near? (adverb)
    Do you live near here? (preposition)
    Yes, I live next to Bob’s house. It’s very close (not far away). It’s just two blocks away.
    This is just a near-term solution. We will need to find a longer-term solution once we have more information.

  3. Close (adverb); close to (preposition); close (adjective)
    Close and near mean the same thing (adverbs).

    Is the post office close to here? (prep)
    Yes, it’s very close. (adv) Just across the street! See it?
    Is New York close to Florida? (prep)
    No, they’re not close at all! (adv)

    Your answer is close (to being correct) but it’s not quite right.

    Are you two close (in relationship)?
    Are you two close friends? (very good friends)
    Yes, we’re best friends actually.

Hopefully, that will help you for most usages of these words.

I am near the end of this discussion…

I am very close to finishing…

I am nearly done… (almost done)

By the way, I am nearly 61 years old. My birthday is next month. (in sequence)

So who does NOT belong in this grouping? (see title question)


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