As far as I understood, and having taken into account the following through googling, I reached the bold part. I am wondering if I am right.

You usually say:

near to something that is abstract.

Take the following:

near to God

near to fear

near to death

Updated: Definition of near preposition from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

near preposition BrE /nɪə(r)/ ; NAmE /nɪr/ (also near to, nearer (to), nearest (to)) Near to is not usually used before the name of a place, person, festival, etc. Add to my wordlist at a short distance away from somebody/something Do you live near here? Go and sit nearer (to) the fire.

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    "Don't go too near to the road, you might get knocked down!" Nothing abstract about that ;) – gone fishin' again. Apr 10 '15 at 9:40
  • Thanks. I, however, add something to support my claim. – nima Apr 10 '15 at 12:17
  • Do you have a claim, or a question? Certainly you CAN use "near to" with abstract nouns. Are there other places you can use "near to"? Yes. Can you use "near " with abstract nouns? Some, yes. "It's near dark." "He's near exhaustion." – Brian Hitchcock Apr 10 '15 at 12:32
  • I have a question. Nevertheless, I am wondering the reason why Oxford has written such a definition! – nima Apr 10 '15 at 12:41
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    Here is the text on that page at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com: "Near to is not usually used before the name of a place, person, festival, etc." Please note the word name. So, the note is just against things like "near to John", "near to London", "near to Glastonbury Music Festival", etc. – Damkerng T. Apr 10 '15 at 14:32

Near to is not usually used before the name of a place, person, festival, etc.

Emphasis added, of course.

There's nothing technically wrong with saying "near to" non-abstract nouns, but it sounds a little clunky to native speakers. They're just pointing out a caveat to help your speech sound more natural. In most cases the "to" sounds redundant. As an example: Do you live near to the church? vs Do you live near the church?, they both mean the same and there's no confusion but the second sounds more natural.

As an anecdotal aside, I just thought about this and realized I don't use or hear "near" used much outside of idiomatic phrases. Phrasing the above question "Do you live by the church?" sounds even more natural to me. Obviously this is all anecdotal so don't take it too seriously but it seems like English in my geographic region (Northeast US) are much more likely to use "by", "closer", or "around" in daily speech than "near".


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