I have a question on an expression "verb + up to".

In the following sentences, which one is better?

He stumbled to a woman in the bar.

He stumbled up to a woman in the bar.

what is the subtle difference between them?

  • 1
    Arguably the second is better. Both imply the person in question was drunk. The first appears to sound a bit off, but is grammatically correct. Feb 28, 2016 at 9:26

1 Answer 1


Up with verbs of motion conveys the idea of reaching the destination.

He walked up to the house and knocked on the door.

The house does not have to be on a hill. Walking "up" to a house means to walk all the way to it.

So, to a shy friend, you might say:

Go ahead, walk up to her and introduce yourself.

In your example, if you want to convey the idea that he made his way to the woman, reaching the point where he was facing her, within conversation distance, you'd say

He stumbled up to a woman at the bar.

(or "in the bar" -- "at" means she is near the counter where drinks are served; "in" means somewhere in the room).


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