This context comes from the "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" book.

"I'm warning you," he said, putting his large purple face right up close to Harry's, "I'm warning you now, boy- any funny business, anything at all - and you'll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas."

I think up close in this context means:

ADJECTIVE (in British English) very close; in close range to(source: Collins dictionary)

What I'm least sure of is the adverb "right". Does it mean?

  1. in a straight line; directly: right to the top.
  2. absolutely or completely; utterly: he went right through the floor.
  3. all the way: the bus goes right to the city centre.
  4. exactly or precisely: right here.

(source<all 4 definitions>: Collins Dictionary)

Did I parse this sentence correctly? Are any of these definitions relevant here?

  • 24 and 25 both seem right to me
    – gotube
    Aug 24, 2022 at 14:21
  • @gotube, it has to be 24 doesn't it? There's not enough evidence to state that 25 is correct?
    – 7caifyi
    Aug 24, 2022 at 14:54

2 Answers 2


Here the word right is used for emphasis, as in this definition from Collins:

used for emphasis

  1. ADVERB [ADV adv/prep]
    You can use right to emphasize the precise place, position, or time of something.
    The back of a car appeared right in front of him.
    from CollinsDictionary.com

If something appears "in front of me", it is an unspecified distance away. If it is "right in front of me", it is very close. (This is still dependent on context; "right in front" when driving might be 50-100 feet, while "right in front" when walking might be 2-5 feet.)

If Uncle Vernon puts his face "up close to Harry's", he is nearer than a person would normally get, but his face could still be a couple of feet away. When he puts his face "right up close to Harry's", it is only a few inches away.


By using "right up close", it is saying that the person is putting their face very close to Harry's, as close as they can get. In such cases, "right" emphasises the closeness.

When used with a preposition, "right" means something similar to senses 23 and 24 "absolutely or completely; utterly" and "all the way". You often talk about something being "right beside something" or "right next to something" or "right in front of something" or "right on top of something".

This implies the two objects are very near to each other, either touching or almost touching, probably as close together as they can get. It might not always imply physical contact, but acts as an intensifier: in the original example the two people may not be touching, but are certainly very close together, the speaker getting as close as they can to deliver a threat.

Examples of similar expressions include:

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