What is the difference between: “Arrive in”, “Arrive at” and “Arrive to”?

'Arrive to' vs. 'arrive in' vs. 'arrive at' in English

Rules of use: “Arrive in”, “Arrive at”, “Arrive to”

Each language has a unique set of prepositions that can usually be difficult for learners. One such problem that is often faced by English language learners is the correct use of ‘arrive in’, ‘arrive at’ and ‘arrive to’. Let’s figure out the difference between “arrive in”, “arrive at” and “arrive to” in English and how to use them correctly.

  1. Arrive in

Arrive in” is typically used when referring to arriving in a city, country, or other broad geographical areas. Generally, it is used with larger places where the boundaries aren’t specifically defined, or in cases where the place referred to aggregates numerous smaller units.


  • John just arrived in London.
  • We’re excited to arrive in Spain next week.
  1. Arrive at

Arrive at” is predominantly used to denote the arrival at a specific, defined location. This could be an event, a building, or a particular location. The location should be a smaller, individual place.


  • She will arrive at the restaurant by 8 pm.
  • The delegates arrived at the conference hall in the morning.
  1. Arrive to

Arrive to” is less common and is often considered informal. Grammatically, “arrive to” is an incorrect expression. There are some rare cases or idiomatic expressions where “arrive to” can be used, but it is not related to reaching a place. An example of this is “arrive to do something”, where the “to” is part of the infinitive verb that follows.


  • We arrived to find the house empty
  • She arrived to meet her friends

Common mistakes with “Arrive in,” “Arrive at,” “Arrive to”

Let’s examine some common mistakes people make when using the phrases “arrive in,” “arrive at,” and “arrive to,” along with explanations:

  • Mistake: “Arrive to”
    • Explanation: As already mentioned, “arrive to” is an incorrect expression in the English language. Use “arrive in” or “arrive at” instead.
  • Mistake: “Arrive on”
    • Explanation: “Arrive on” is incorrectly used to describe a point of arrival. The correct choice is “arrive at” or “arrive in.”
  • Mistake: “Arrive to the airport”
    • Explanation: Correct: “Arrive at the airport.” In English, we always use “arrive at” for airports.
  • Mistake: “Arrive in/to London city”
    • Explanation: Correct: “Arrive in London” or “Arrive in the city.” “City” is already included in the name of London, so “city” is usually not needed here.
  • Mistake: “Arrive at home”
    • Explanation: Correct: “Arrive home” or “Arrive at my/your/his/her home.” In English, we do not use “at” before the word “home” in the context of one’s own residence.
  • Mistake: “Arrive at to”
    • Explanation: There is no need to use both “at” and “to” together before the point of arrival. Use only one of these phrases depending on the context.

Remember these common rules and mistakes to avoid incorrect usage of prepositions when describing your arrival in the English language. The best way to improve your language proficiency is through practice and learning from examples, so don’t hesitate to make use of these correct constructions in real-life situations.

In summary, in determining whether to use the words “arrive in” and “arrive at,” it is very important to consider the place you are referring to: whether it is a broad geographic area or a specific place. “Arrive to” is used very rarely, but remember that it is not in the context of arriving to a certain month.

So, as you continue to learn English, understanding the difference between these usages will help you improve your linguistic level. Remember that practice is the key to learning a language. For practice, start by identifying the sentences with the word “arrive” and then choose the correct preposition according to the context. It may seem difficult at first, but as you continue to practice, you will inevitably notice progress.

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