What is the subtle difference between the following two sentences?

The man slithers up next to the young woman.

The man slithers next to the young woman.

That is, I want to know how the feeling is changed.

  • 1
    snakes slither. slither up next to means to approach via a slithering motion until next to. slither next to wiithout up means to move in a slithering motion when next to. Jun 25, 2017 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


Slithering up next to somebody in this case gives the impression of approaching somebody or creeping up on to them in a creepy, shady manner. Slithering next to gives the impression of literally slithering along side somebody like a snake, and is therefore wrong in this context I would say.

As @Andrew pointed out in the comments, slithering next to could be used by the author is he were trying to give a certain image of the man, for example that he is like a snake in the way he acts. Personally I think if this were the case a phrase such a he was slithering around the pub would be more natural. Either way the point stil stands that "slithering up to" implies approaching, while just "slithering" or "slithering around" implies some sort of continuous movement.

  • 1
    Unless the author meant it to be metaphorical, in which case "slithers" might be fine, given supporting context identifying the man as "a snake".
    – Andrew
    Jun 25, 2017 at 19:20
  • 1
    @Andrew I agree, although I still think in this case we would add some sort of modifier "slithering along next to" maybe, I'll edit my answer to explain.
    – Harvey
    Jun 25, 2017 at 19:51
  • By adding 'up' in 'slithering', it looks like expressing 'approaching'. Can I take the 'up' in 'he came up at nine.' in the same way?
    – GT Kim
    Jun 26, 2017 at 1:16
  • @GTKim I'm not quite sure I understand the sentence "he came up at nine." Do you have any context? The only meaning I can think of is that he came up to bed at nine oclock, in which case it would not mean approaching but rather that he had gone upstairs to go to bed.
    – Harvey
    Jun 26, 2017 at 18:13
  • @Harvey, For example, "we waited for him until eight, but he came up at nine."
    – GT Kim
    Jun 26, 2017 at 23:17

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