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'Arrive a Place', 'Arrive at a Place', 'Arrive in a Place', or 'Arrive to a Place'? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 13 February 2024)


Arrive a Place, Arrive at a Place, Arrive in a Place, or Arrive to a Place: Which One Is Correct?

The verb arrive can be a source of confusion for learners of English, as it may or may not be followed by a preposition. Even when a preposition is required, it is not always obvious which one should be used. In this blog post, you will learn how to use arrive correctly and avoid common mistakes.

When referring to a building (e.g. a school, a church, a hotel, or an airport), a park, or an event, it is common to use arrive at:

Before Chris arrived at the restaurant, Kim and I had already left.

We arrived at Ocean Park at around noon.

When did Sue arrive at the party?

On the other hand, when referring to a larger area such as a district, town, city, or country, it is more appropriate to use arrive in:

When I arrived in Toronto after having been away for over a decade, I was amazed at all the changes.

The family arrived in China a week ago.

From a grammatical standpoint, arrive at and arrive in are followed by a noun or noun phrase. This explains why we say arrive here, arrive there, and arrive home (i.e. no preposition is needed after arrive): the words here, there, and home in each of these instances are functioning as adverbs rather than as nouns:

✅ If you arrive here early, you can take a look around the city before the conference starts.

The directions were a bit confusing, but we managed to arrive there on time.

✅ As soon as he arrived home, he sat on the couch and turned on the television.

However, when talking about a specific home (e.g. Tom's home), the preposition at is needed, as the word home functions as a noun in this instance:

When we arrived at Tom's home, he greeted us warmly and invited us inside.
When we arrived Tom's home, he greeted us warmly and invited us inside.

Finally, it is not grammatically correct to say arrive to a place:

I'll give you a call as soon as I arrive to the airport.
I'll give you a call as soon as I arrive at the airport.

Send me a text message once you arrive to Melbourne.
Send me a text message once you arrive in Melbourne.

To summarise, whether you need to use a preposition with arrive, and which one to use, depends on the specific location and whether the verb is followed by a noun or an adverb. By following these guidelines, you can use the verb with confidence and avoid common mistakes.

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Examples from the Media

Upon arrival this morning, the Princess stuck to the theme of the occasion and opted for a £450 Self Portrait white midi dress with a pleated skirt and a white boucle tweed jacket as she arrived at the National Portrait Gallery, which has been closed for three years for an extensive refurbishment programme. —Daily Mail (2023)

He smiled at photographers as he arrived at the meeting at the Service and Food Workers' Union. Otago Daily Times (2014)

Air Canada passengers stranded in Manchester for two days finally arrived in Toronto Sunday afternoon after frustrating delays. —Toronto Star (2016)

As a child, I spent more time with my grandmother, though I waited for Grandpa to arrive home from work so I could sit with him while he sipped whiskey and ate slices of cheese. —The New York Times (2019)

The 29-year-old woman arrived at her home on Dargan Street, Yagoona, about 2.30pm on Friday when she allegedly saw a man on her front porch holding one of her travel bags. —The Sydney Morning Herald (2011)

Practice

Choose the correct option to complete each sentence.

1. I was thrilled to see a magnificent Bengal tiger when I arrived/arrived at/arrived in the zoo.

2. Everyone arrived/arrived at/arrived in the birthday party on time.

3. We didn't know that the pastor's home was also a small church until we arrived/arrived at/arrived in there.

4. After a long flight, we finally arrived/arrived at/arrived in Australia and were excited to explore the country.

5. What time does Tim usually arrive/arrive at/arrive in work in the morning?

6. I arrived/arrived at/arrived in home feeling very tired.

7. After we arrived/arrived at/arrived in the airport, we realised that we had forgotten our passports and requested assistance from airport staff.

8. As soon as I arrived/arrived at/arrived in London, I headed to a nearby pub for some delicious fish and chips.

9. It was a long journey, but we finally arrived/arrived at/arrived in here safe and sound.

Answer Key

1. arrived at    2. arrived at    3. arrived    4. arrived in    5. arrive at    6. arrived    7. arrived at    8. arrived in    9. arrived

Real-World Examples of Misuse

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