I need some help in understanding the words そば、となり、 よこ. They are all used to mean "next to". My question is, are they interchangable, or are they used in different situations? If so, do they also have different politeness levels? example sentence:
GAKKOU NO (YOKO, TONARI, SOBA) NI SUUPAA GA ARIMASU.
This is taken from COURSE 2 LESSON 2 from this site.
"Tonari (next to; next door, neighboring) and yoko (side, next to) are used a little differently than their English counterparts.
Things that are tonari must be of the same type, caliber, or quality. They must be perceived in some regard as equal. You cannot say: kare wa tsukue no tonari ni imasu (He is next to the desk.)
Tonari is also used to refer to the nearest object of the same type, regardless of whether the actual distance is near or far. Also, a neighboring house, or a person living in a neighboring house, is called tonari, or the more polite otonari。
Things that are yoko are right next to each other. With yoko, size and quality do not matter."
As far as the word "soba" that means more like AROUND or CLOSE BY, but not necessarily next to. Another related word is "chikai" which means NEAR which would be the opposite of the word "tooi" which means FAR.