General Writing and Grammar Help/To, up to, towards

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Question
Dear Ted:

When should I use the following phrases: "to walk or run to someone," "to walk or run up to someone," and "to walk or run towards someone"?

Would you please give me some examples?

Many, many thanks for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

When should I use the following phrases: "to walk or run to someone," "to walk
or run up to someone," and "to walk or run towards someone"?

TO WALK OR RUN TO SOMEONE --

The lost little girl saw her father in the distance and began TO WALK TO HIM.  [You can say TO RUN TO HIM if the little girl wanted to get to her father faster.[

TO WALK OR RUN TOWARDS SOMEONE --

These words are very similar to the first example.  The main difference is that the first example implies that the little girl intends to reach her father.  If she is just walking TOWARDS him, however, there is no implication that she is going to reach him.

TO WALK OR RUN UP TO SOMEONE -- The preposition "up" is another indication that the walking or running person intends to get CLOSE to the person.  It does not suggest that she will actually make it all the way TO that person.

The little boy was fascinated by the balloon man in the park.  He started to run up to the man, but his father stopped him.

*** In common usage, Paolo, all three of these examples are often interchanged, because there is very little difference between them.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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