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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. – Vitaly Nov 3 '17 at 23:18
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  • возле means 'next to/by/near some physical entity': возле дома, возле машины, возле города.

  • около has 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")

  • близ is 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").

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    So, would you say that возле and около are somewhat interchangeable? – Trey Nov 3 '17 at 10:46
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    One-way, they really are, as возле can always be safely replaced with около, but not vice versa. Actually, возле implies a little bit more closeness than около, but that is not too critical – Vadim Landa Nov 3 '17 at 10:50
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    It's also interesting that Russian около has exactly the same roots as English around: "коло" essentially means "(something) round-shaped". However, in modern Russian около only conveys proximity, while вокруг is used to describe someone/something not only (and not necessarily) close, but in a form of a circle. – Arthur Kazykhanov Nov 3 '17 at 17:18

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