No, ernaast always refers to a single thing or animal. For example: Ik sta naast de muur=Ik sta ernaast. Hij wacht naast de hond = Hij wacht ernaast. But if you mean being next to a person, then you would not use ernaast. For example: Zij staat naast de jongen = Zij staat naast hem. Next to them (persons) = naast hen. Hij staat naast de meiden = Hij staat naast hen.
Hi stripedkitty, your sentence is fine (I'm glad Dutchesse has changed the wrong "hun " into "hen"). But the question was if you could translate "them" instead of "it". Say you're looking at a family photograph, and your friend doesn't recognize you. She says: "Dit zijn jouw ouders, toch? Maar welke ben jij dan?" So you say: "Kijk dan! Ik sta ernaast!" Hopefully, your parents aren't things or animals, and one thing is for sure: you couldn't translate this as "it".
No, that is not correct. It should read "Kijk dan! Ik sta naast hen" or 'Ik sta naast ze." The 'Ik' in your example is standing next to the parents, and 'ernaast' means next to it. "Hopefully, your parents aren't things or animals, and one thing is for sure: you couldn't translate this as "it"".
Not really, if you want to compare it to English you might say the er.. (hier.., daar..) are comparable to Therein or Herein which really means in it or in that.
Not really shorter, because you could say, "De hond staat naast het." but it wouldn't make sense either way and is more like labouring for a more direct translation.