Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Arrive in, at or to?


One of the typical mistakes my students make is using the preposition "to" with the verb "arrive".
For example: *We arrived to London.
The preposition “to” can never follow the verb “arrive”, because it is a preposition of movement and the verb is not. Instead of “to”, we can use “at” or “in”, but, when should we use one or the other? The answer is easy:
  • We use “at” when we get to a small place such as an airport, station or village.
Ex.: The children arrived at school quite late.
  • We use “in” when we get to a large place such as a country or a city.
Ex.: The Vikings arrived in Britain in the 8th century.

Sometimes it's not so easy and you can find examples like:
They arrived at Cardiff
Being Cardiff a big town, "in" should have been used, but "at" is correct because we actually mean arrive at Cardiff station or airport.
Photo: Cardiff Bay, by Ian Britton


48 comments:

  1. Thanks for your post. I'm sharing it with my students.

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  2. I'm so glad it was useful! Thank you for visiting, Mari. Cheers!

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  3. Most useful!
    Thanks from Israel:)

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    1. I'm glad it was useful for you! Greetings from Spain!

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  4. Thanks from Ukraine, very helpful)

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  5. Replies
    1. I arrived the mansion early in the morning. Can you please tell me if this is right. mainly "arrived the mansion"

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    2. Hi, Emma! You can say "I arrived home" (no preposition), but with the word "mansion" a preposition is needed, so we say: "I arrived at the mansion".
      I hope this helps you. Cheers!

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  6. Wow Thanks very much.
    TwT Finally I know that..

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  7. Pretty useful, actually... Thanks a lot!

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  8. Dear Inma,
    I am Spanish myself but have been working in English for a number of years. I still have doubts about prepositions and have found your post extremely useful! Many thanks!

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  9. I am really happy that it was useful for you! ¡Saludos desde Andalucía!

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  10. Thank you - very well explained!!

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  11. Very helpful, thank you, Ana

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  12. thanks a lot from Sri Lanka.... You have explained it clearly and briefly. Thanks again Inma,

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  13. A lot of thanks!!
    Actually, always confusing, even up to THIS age.....
    wee wee...........

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  14. thanks for sharing!! Saludos desde Piriapolis , Uruguay!
    Lorena Reyes

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    1. Gracias por la visita y el comentario. ¡Saludos desde Andalucía, España!

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  15. I would dare to differ on "arrive at the village". I think depending on the country the speaker is from, the use of "at" and "in" varies. In the US we generally arrive "at" the enclosed space and we "in" the large open area. Remember that "at" always means a point in time, place, on the map.

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  16. Thank you for this lesson.
    Could you help me, is there any difference between British and American English?
    I'm reading harry potter now and found "arrived in the kitchen " which confused me a lot
    Thank you, Natali, Russia

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    1. In this case you mention, I don't think there is a difference between British and American English. I think the writer uses "in" because it gives the idea of entering an enclosed place, of going into a volume. I hope I shed some light on your doubt.
      Thank you for visiting, Natali! Cheers!

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  17. Iam very glad to learn that .I haven't known it before.

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    1. I'm glad you find this entry useful. Thanks for visiting! Cheers!

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  18. Thank u. I had a doubt but not now u r my eye opener

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    1. I'm so glad! Thanks for visiting Mayuran. Cheers!

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  19. Thank you a lot! So easy and understandable!

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  20. Can we say "arrive to a conclusion?

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    1. Hi, Marco!
      The word "conclusion" collocates with the verb "arrive" but the preposition must be "at". However, you can say "come to a conclusion" or "reach a conclusion" and even "jump to conclusions". The preposition depends on the verb, not on the word "conclusion".
      Cheers!

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  21. THANKS!it was a really common mistake among my students;thanks to u I figured it out and corrected em ;) good luck

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    1. I'm so glad this was useful! Thanks for visiting! Cheers!

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  22. Which one most formal (arrived in Toronto or arrived at Toronto?)

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