What's the difference between возле, около and близ? They all translate to near, but I suppose there's a proper context for each of these.
There is also a word вблизи, which is less bookish then близ and has the same meaning.– VitalyNov 3, 2017 at 23:18
возлеmeans 'next to/by/near some physical entity': возле дома, возле машины, возле города.
околоhas the same meaning in general, but can additionally have connotation of 'around/approximately/about' when referring to quantities:
Водитель уже ждал нас около (возле) машины. The driver was already waiting for us by the car.
Давай встретимся около двух часов дня. Let's meet around two o'clock.
В банке оставалось около литра воды. There was about a litre of water remaining in the jar.
Also, consider the idiomatic expression "ходить вокруг да около" ("to wander around and about the matter without actually getting into that")
близis rather bookish, and is generally used in fiction when speaking about locations (близ города, близ этого места). Additionally, it assumes some extra distance to the subject, unlike 'next to', so 'near' is the correct counterpart here. One won't encounter it standalone in everyday speech, although several common adjectives stem from it: "близлежащий" ("nearby"), "близкий" ("close to"), and "ближний" ("close").
1So, would you say that возле and около are somewhat interchangeable?– TreyNov 3, 2017 at 10:46
4One-way, they really are, as
возлеcan always be safely replaced with
около, but not vice versa. Actually,
возлеimplies a little bit more closeness than
около, but that is not too critical Nov 3, 2017 at 10:50
4It's also interesting that Russian
околоhas exactly the same roots as English
around: "коло" essentially means "(something) round-shaped". However, in modern Russian
околоonly conveys proximity, while
вокругis used to describe someone/something not only (and not necessarily) close, but in a form of a circle. Nov 3, 2017 at 17:18