A question about using some prepositions with the noun "reach":

  1. The ball soared beyond the goalkeeper's reach.
  2. The ball soared above the goalkeeper's reach.

"Reach" in this context means the distance that one can stretch out one's hand to. Sentence 1 is good.
But sentence 2, which could be found on google, seems weird, because "above" should be followed by some location, not some distance. Could sentence 2 be poorly written?

  • 3
    I don't see anything particularly unusual about things being above someone's reach. It's just that beyond is more common in most contexts because it might get awkward deciding whether the reason he couldn't reach it was because it was too high, or too far to one side. Perhaps the goalkeeper could have reached the ball if it had been directly above him, but because it was too far to his left, he just couldn't get that far up and across. In such contexts, his reach is a "location" (the furthest point he can get to), not a distance. Jun 24, 2014 at 4:18
  • @FumbleFingers Is this "location" sense of "reach" in any major online dictionaries?
    – meatie
    Jun 24, 2014 at 5:01
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers In my opinion, your comment is good as an answer too. I'd upvote it if you posted it as an answer. Jun 24, 2014 at 5:02
  • @DamkerngT. Is this "location" sense of "reach" in any major online dictionaries?
    – meatie
    Jun 24, 2014 at 5:17
  • Roughly, yes, when reach is used as a noun. More formally, here is how Macmillan Dictionary defines reach (n.): "the distance within which you can touch something or pick it up by stretching out your hand, arm, leg, etc." Jun 24, 2014 at 5:20

2 Answers 2


Above should be prefered if the ball soared directly over the goalkeeper's head, which is also out of his reach. If the ball soared to his left or right sides, it would also be out of his reach but not above him. In conclusion, above is more specific because it pinpoints "where" did the ball soared out of the goalkeeper's reach.


The difference here is that when something is beyond your reach, it is stationary, a book on a shelf, or figuratively and dream or goal.

However in your example, the ball is in upward flight, and it the motion that allows "above" in this case. Note, however, that "beyond" is also possible in this sentence, especially if the ball were moving not upward, but to the left or right of the goalkeeper.

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