5

She walked (over) to him.

I'll bring the drink (over) to you.

How does the meaning of these sentences change with or without the word "over"?

7

To go the distance from where you are to a person: walk over to a person

To approach a person at a place: walk up to a person

walk to a person is not really idiomatic in most contexts.

bring something to someone does not require over. That said, if you are at one end of the garden with the beer and someone else is at the other end, you will take the drink over to that person [across the garden].

If you say in English, to walk to a person, it's not describing what one generally says in everyday speech to describe interactions between people located at a particular place.

If a baby is learning to walk, you would say: "He stood up on his little legs and walked to his mother without falling over".

walked without any other preposition is contrasted with other verbs:

  • The baby penguin walked to his mother. [He did not crawl to her.]
  • The baby bird flew to his mother sitting on the branch.

Walk to [x], run to [x] is generally how one gets to a place in terms of one's own locomotion.

She walked to school [she did not run, ride or crawl to school]

Whereas, if you are in or at a place, generally, you walk over to someone or you walk up to someone.

6

over adds the nuanced idea that there is some space or distance between them, which is to the speaker's mind not negligible. She may have to cross the room, for example.

1

In your two examples,

She walked (over) to him.
I'll bring the drink (over) to you.

the use of "over" is optional, meaning is neither lost nor changed without it.

  • 1
    Do you really think it's optional?? She walked to him, sounds like a baby learning to walk, doesn't it?? – Lambie May 6 '18 at 18:07
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    @Lambie - No, it doesn't sound like that to this native English speaker. It just says that walking was how she got to him. You could equally well say "She ran to him" or "She flew to him". – stangdon May 6 '18 at 21:46
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    @stangdon How often do you say: "She walked to him"? Frankly, only in bad romance novels: "She walked to him, threw her arms around his neck and started kissing him". I am not saying it can't be said, or that it is never said, but in everyday speech, when describing people interacting with others I think generally one would use a preposition. "I was in the pub last night. Jean came in. She walked over to us", not "she walked to us". The point is that the meaning changes completely. – Lambie May 6 '18 at 21:54
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    @stangdon, I just realized myself that walk, run, crawl etc. to someone generally refers to one's own locomotion. Whereas: walk over to someone means you walk to them in order to interact with them. Same with walk up to someone. So walk up/over are fundamentally different, which is why the "walk to him" seemed odd to me before I figured out the locomotion angle. – Lambie May 6 '18 at 22:07
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    @stangdon It definitely sounds weird to me to say "walked to him". I think the difference (as Lambie has pointed out) is that "she walked to him" puts the emphasis on the form of locomotion used to get there (walked as opposed to drove or flew), while "she walked over to him" puts the emphasis on where she was going and how far she travelled to get there. In my mind, "walked to him" doesn't convey any sense of distance (other than that it's within walking distance), while "walked over to him" seems to imply a few metres of distance. – Clonkex May 7 '18 at 5:50

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