Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Remmer and Forest Whitaker, is an interesting take on the usual sci-fi film involving aliens.  Not only is its plot thought-provoking on many levels, the linguistic element is truly fascinating as well. The film also serves as a critique on how we behave on earth in terms of how we relate to other nations. For me, a must-see. To whet your appetite, here is the trailer.

The title itself actually gave me the idea for the blog post as the verb arrive and its prepositions is something which is often perplexing for Spanish speakers.  I have read and heard arrive to countless times and this is never possible in English.  We treat ‘arrive’ as a static verb, not one of movement. Therefore we use:

Arrive at = a place in town eg. When I arrived at the station, the train had already left.                                                                        When I got to the station, the train had already left.

Arrive in = a city, country eg. We arrived in London late at night.                                                                                                              We got to London late at night.

Something that frequently adds to the confusion is that we use Jack of all trades ‘get’ to mean arrive and this verb does use ‘to’.

Another synonym of arrive/get can be ‘reach’.  This is generally used in journeys and directions.  If you put your sat-nav in English he/she will tell you how many kilometres remain until you reach your destination.  Notice ‘reach’ is never followed by a preposition.

One final thing to take into account and burn into your memories on this score is that ‘home’ is one of those special words that prances around as an exception, swallowing prepositions: Arrive home/get home.

Arrival, the noun made from the verb arrive, lends its name (in the plural form) to the place at the airport you go through after landing.  So what are these other airport-related words?

  • departures/departure lounge
  • check-in desk
  • security
  • duty free
  • boarding card
  • boarding gate
  • passport control
  • baggage reclaim

These days with airport security at its utmost, we have to put liquids into plastic bags.  Here in Valencia you will hear on the tannoy, “It is only allowed one plastic bag per passenger.”  Why is this grammatically incorrect?






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