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The boys are about to reach.

The boys are about to arrive.

When should I use reach and when should I use arrive?

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"The boys are about to reach." sounds wrong because it is missing the location they are reaching. ('reach' requires a direct object). 'arrive' implicitly refers usually to 'here' (the location of the speaker, or the location in the context. –  Mitch Mar 26 '11 at 22:35
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Reach is transitive when referring to a destination, meaning it needs a direct object. So you want to say

The boys are about to arrive.

Or, you could say

The boys are about to reach their destination.

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"The plane arrived on time"or "The plane reached on time" –  aliya Mar 26 '11 at 19:17
    
The plane arrived in time or The plane reached in time –  aliya Mar 26 '11 at 19:23
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"The plane arrived on time," or "the plane reached the terminal on time," not, "the plane reached on time." –  snumpy Mar 26 '11 at 19:26
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When you use reach, you most always need to follow it with the place (the "where") that the subject reached: it reached the terminal, he reached the finish line, etc. –  mgkrebbs Mar 26 '11 at 20:56
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@aliya: In the context of a plane arriving, "on time" refers to it getting there at its scheduled time (It was due to arrive at six o'clock, and it arrived on time). "In time" means "with enough time for (something)" - for example, The plane arrived in time for us to reach the theatre before the start of the show. –  psmears Mar 27 '11 at 10:10
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