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What are the shades, nuances, and/or differences in meaning between "reached me" and "came to my hand" as in the following sentences:

  1. The paperback book reached me,
  2. The paperback book came to my hand.

It seems to me that 2. indicates that the book is not that important, or that I came across it inadvertently.

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    Neither of those sentences makes sense in the way you appear to mean it. The paperback book is not the thing taking action, so you can't say it reached you, unless it's a book that is being sent to you in the mail. You might say "I reached for the book" or "the book was close at hand".
    – stangdon
    Aug 2, 2016 at 12:07
  • Agreed with @stangdon . Native speakers would not phrase the idea this way. For (2), the "inadvertent" case, we might say "I came across the book", but notice the subject and object are swapped from your example, for exactly the reason Stangdon indicates: the person is the agent, the book is the (inanimate) object.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 2, 2016 at 12:49

2 Answers 2

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X reaches Y means:

  • X was moving of its own will (e.g. someone walking towards you) or moving of its own accord (e.g. a ball rolling down a hill),

  • X was moving towards Y,

  • X is now near Y.

Just a note: Books don't move by themselves, so unless the book was falling from a great height and finally came near you, "the paperback book reached me" does not make sense. Even then, unless this is something like Harry Potter where things can move telekinetically, or maybe you have mechanical shelves that move books on their own, the book would probably hit you in the head or elsewhere, and we would say "the paperback book hit me."

X comes to Y means similar to reach, but X reaches Y is more often used if it's intended that X and Y be near each other.

So you are right, X comes to Y would be better if X moving towards Y is inadvertent.

X comes Y would not work if the only thing that can happen is X being near Y when the movement is over. So let's say you are near a lake or ocean, and you see something falling from the sky above the water, and it eventually drops in a nearby lake or ocean, reach is the proper term even though there is no apparent intention, because it could only fall in the lake or ocean.

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The English idiom come to hand has the meaning "to appear," and conveys the sense that the thing referred to was delivered to the speaker by an outside agent, or discovered inadvertently. However, its use does not connote that the object which "comes to hand" is inferior in quality.

Your first example sentence, "The paperback book reached me," would only be used in natural speech or writing if the book had been mailed, shipped, or (in the most unusual case) thrown to the speaker.

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