1) When he reaches to manhood, he will visit England. OR 2) When he reaches manhood, he will visit England.

Which of the two is correct?

  • The second is correct. It seems like an answer should be able to explain why, which I can't, so I'll just comment. Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 15:02

3 Answers 3


This is yet another "preposition usage" context where usage has changed over time. NGrams doesn't have enough written instances of unquestionably abstract "states that can be reached" (such as manhood, maturity) to show on a chart, but I think heaven is close enough, if we think of it as a "state of being" rather than a "physical location" that can be traveled to...

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As that chart clearly shows, a couple of centuries ago you were as likely to reach to heaven as to reach heaven. I know some people will say those two usage mean different things (with to, it's strive to get there - maybe unsuccessfully; without, it's successfully get there). But I don't think that's the whole explanation, and there are plenty of (mostly, older) written instances of reach(ed) to maturity in Google Books to show that including the preposition is/was far from unknown.

I'd say the general trend has been for English to use more prepositions in contexts where they help disambiguate between possible intended meanings, but to discard prepositions where disambiguation is irrelevant. In the context of to reach, the two possible meanings (strive towards, or actually arrive) can be 100% disambiguated by including for or not...

1: People like him will never reach the stars (He'll never get there)
2: People like him will never reach for the stars (He'll never even try to get there)
3: People like him will never reach to the stars (Uncommon today, but could carry either sense)

...so we don't need to bother with to.

TL;DR: It used to be more common to include the preposition for contexts like OP's example, but times have changed. I wouldn't say including to is "ungrammatical", but it's an optional usage that's fallen out of fashion.

  • Here's another NGram showing that reach the top and reach to the top were about equally common until 1900, but since then the prepositionless version has become at least 5 times more common. Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 17:45

Reach to X is used if X is something you can touch or physically do. If X is a status, to isn't used (because it's something you become, not something you "move" to).

So it's reach manhood, but it would be reach to other desk, reach to the back, etc.

  • 3
    reach to other desk??? Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 16:44

You don’t say reaches to manhood in that case, you say reaches manhood. The subject is not physically nor is he mentally reaching for manhood. He is not trying to grab manhood. He is waiting for manhood. So, the correct one is reach. When he reaches manhood, he will visit England.

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