While doing exercises, I am bit confused with "そば", "となり" and "よこ". Can anyone explain me the difference between them. Is it so that "よこ" is used when the object is at either left or right side of the subject. like 郵便局のよこに銀行があります。
When does "そば" use then.


2 Answers 2


With "そば", you picture thing A that's nearby thing B. It is omni-directional in the sense that it doesn't matter which way those two things are facing. They just need to be close enough.

With "よこ", first picture a "そば" relationship but with an additional constraint that two things are side ways --- this word is no longer omni-directional. So for this to work, thing A has to have something that resembles a front (such as a building), and relative to this front of thing A, this B is at the 90 degree direction. Or thing B going tangental to thing A (like one street crossing another.)

With "となり", first picture a "よこ" relationship with an additional constraint that two things are next to each other.

I hope that puts those three words in context.


Here's my take on it:

  • そば - to be around, いつもあなたの そば にいる: always by your side
  • となり - next to, adjacent, となりの人: the person next to me, the person next door
  • よこ - sideways, on the side, よこになる: to lay oneself one the side, i.e. to lay down

and for completeness as of X is near or next to Y. Is my understanding of this correct?

  • ちかく - near, vicinity, 郵便局のちかく: somewhere near the post office
  • ところ - at someone's place, 田中さんのところへ: to Tanaka's place vs. 田中さんへ to Tanaka (himself)

When does one use "そば" then? Well, mostly from a gut feeling I'd say. The difference amounts to as much as "close by", "nearby", "in the vicinity", "next to" etc. do.

  • よこになる is quite different from よこにいる/よこにある... ^^;
    – user1016
    Apr 5, 2013 at 12:53
  • @Abcno1: I saw your edit; you should positively post it as reply of its own. Nov 5, 2014 at 15:07

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .