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When do we use "at" and "in" with "arrive" talking about place, not time?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Arrive carries 3 prepositions: in, on, or at.

  1. He arrived in New York.
  2. He arrived at the station.
  3. He arrived on the scene of the accident.


  • He arrived here. [no preposition]
  • He arrived at 12 o'clock.
  • He arrived within 10 minutes.
  • He will arrive in an hour.

So it turns out that 'arrive' either carries or doesn't carry a preposition depending on the place or time that follows it, i.e. if the place or the time carries a preposition.

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we don't usually say "in New York" or "at the station" when we say about the direction. We usually say "to New York" or "to the station". With ariive it's a different story! That's why it's confusing. – Valentina Apr 12 '11 at 19:54
@Valentina, Thank you. – C_P Apr 12 '11 at 19:58
@Valentina: I guess the reason is that, once you've arrived, you've stopped moving - so it's no longer about a direction, it's just a place. At least - that might be a good way of remembering :) – psmears Apr 12 '11 at 21:25
Wow, that's an interesting idea! I've never thought of it, thank you! It's really a new explanation for me. But what's about if we want to say: "I've come to New York". I've also stopped moving! But it's still TO :) – Valentina Apr 13 '11 at 19:33
The Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary states the example of 'arrive' with 'in' as: 'in New York'. – C_P Apr 13 '11 at 20:44

For time:

'at' with a specific point in time = "I will arrive at 4:30"

'in' with a period of time = "I will arrive in 30mins"

Confusingly it's 'on' with a day = "I will arrive on tuesday"

For places:

'in' with general areas, countries, cities etc. = "I will arrive in Italy", "I will arrive in Rome"

'at' with specific places = "I will arrive at your house", "I will arrive at the airport"

You can use also use 'in' with a specific place if you mean specifically inside.
"I will meet you at the shop", could be waiting outside - but "I will meet you in the shop" means I will be inside.

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what's if we talk about a place? – Valentina Apr 12 '11 at 19:39
You can also "arrive in a car." – MrHen Apr 12 '11 at 19:49
thank you, that's what I wanted! – Valentina Apr 12 '11 at 19:50
what does it mean - arrive IN a car??? Is it the same as BY car? – Valentina Apr 12 '11 at 19:50
@Valentina, in a car, by car mean the same thing generally – mgb Apr 12 '11 at 19:54

AT and IN It is taught that IN is used before the names of big places like towns, cities, states, and countries and that AT before the names of small places like villages. I live in the District of Kannur, in Kerala State of India. I will say: I live in Kannur|I live in Kerala|I live in India. The locality I live in is known as Naluvayal. It is a small place. A friend of mine who does not live there will say: Abootty lives AT Naluvayal. It is because he does not give any importance to Naluvayal. At the same time for me Naluvayal is an important place since my house is there. So I will say: I live IN Naluvayal.

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protected by tchrist Mar 1 '15 at 18:17

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