I want an item within the reach of my hands. Which one of the following sentences is correct? Please explain.

  1. Keep it close TO hand?!
  2. Keep it close AT hand?!
  • @FF I missed this. Not surprised you didn't. // The 'close' does make a difference to the acceptability of the phrase. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 6 '16 at 16:05

Keep it close at hand. = within reach


You really should include some research, but I doubt you would have dug this up.

From Nus.edu.sg/prose/vocab

  1. [The choice between] Close to/at/in/on hand (and slightly reformatted)

You can only [ever] use two of the expressions here. They are 'close to hand' and 'close at hand'. Both mean 'close by' or near. But the expression 'close at hand' is much more frequently used than 'close to hand.' In addition, 'close at hand' can be used with both abstract objects and concrete ones whereas 'close to hand' is often restrictive to the description of concrete objects.

Examples: Wherever he is, a glass is close to hand. (concrete)


Enjoy a good read with a cup of tea close at hand. (concrete)

That goal is already close at hand! (abstract)

The economic crisis is dangerously close at hand. (abstract)

So for your example with a physical referent, both 'close to hand' and 'close at hand' are acceptable, but the latter is more idiomatic (what most people would use).

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