In English is there a short/idomatic phrase to express that something should be kept in range of your hand or eyes?

I mean for example: keep phone and email/something in hand range or eye range

How can I express such range without using artificial-sounding language?

4 Answers 4


I think a good choice would be the expression within reach.

I need to keep my phone within reach.

The expression is often used to say that something is close enough to be picked up right away. In the case of the phone, the phone is literally within reach (that is, within an arm's length, or maybe nearby in the same room). However, the expression can be used figuratively as well. For example, a university might advertise by saying something like:

A better way of life is within reach.

meaning that, once you get a better education, there's a good chance your lifestyle will improve.

  • A better way of life is within reach. is really idiomatic since education context is hidden.
    – Chameleon
    May 3, 2013 at 10:16
  • @Chameleon: Sure, that last example is VERY context dependent. A speaker could say those same words when, say, helping someone overcome an addiction, or trying to persuade someone to buy a house in a different neighborhood.
    – J.R.
    May 3, 2013 at 10:19
  • In Polish we say a better life is in your range == a better way of life is within reach or little more often in Polish you have chance for a better life - probably it sounds strange in English :) Thank you for suggestions.
    – Chameleon
    May 3, 2013 at 10:40
  • +1. This is definitely a good answer. I'll just note that people sometimes use the variant in reach the same way, although within reach is more common.
    – user230
    Jan 15, 2014 at 17:38

Another option would be handy:

Keep your cell phone handy.

Per Merriam-Webster, it means:

1: a : conveniently near b : convenient for use


Yes. You can use the idiomatic phrase:

I need to keep my phone to hand.

meaning that the phone must be kept somewhere where it is immediately accessible.

You can also use the idiomatic phrase:

Can you keep an eye on the baby until I get back from the store.

In this case, the meaning is that the baby should be kept within eye-range until the speaker gets back from the store.

  • Can I say You have to keep your phone and email access to hand?
    – Chameleon
    May 3, 2013 at 9:38
  • 5
    Hmmm... I would say "on hand" or "at hand" before I said "to hand", but maybe that's a regional thing.
    – J.R.
    May 3, 2013 at 9:58
  • 1
    Another variation would be "near at hand" or "near to hand".
    – Hellion
    May 3, 2013 at 14:29

In my opinion, as a native English speaker, 'keep an eye on' would be the most natural phrase for this particular type of behavior.

I need to keep an eye on my email and phone today as I'm expecting to hear from a hiring manager.

'Monitor' might be used as well: "I need to monitor my phone," but is not nearly as commonly used.

'Handy' and 'at hand' work well for a physical objects, but not so well for something more amorphous like 'email.'

'To hand' is one I've personally never heard before.

  • It's interesting how we can use "keep an eye on my phone," even when we mean we are listening more than we are watching.
    – J.R.
    Jan 15, 2014 at 19:40

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