Student or Learner
I wonder when 'up' is necessary in sentences like: He spotted his wife in the crowd and went up to her. Does it emphasize anything?
I'd never thought about it before, but good question.
In my own sense of the difference, the "up" brings you right into her face.
"He went to her" "He went to her bedside" "He went to be with her" - in all these, he was near enough to have a normal conversation.
"He went up to her" suggests he was close enough that a whispered conversation was possible.
It can also be used to sound a bit more agressive (which gets back to "get in your face" - which is an agressive phrase). "The teacher failed me, so I went up to her and demanded an explanation."