Arrive in the city

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Spiritual09, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. Spiritual09 Member

    Spanish- Spain

    I am unsure about the sentence: "I arrived in the village/city". I have seen it in a story, the preposition "in" is used with "village", but I would have written "at" there, since "in" is only for names of countries and cities, but when you don't mention the name and there are places such as restaurants, airports, cities, villages... "at" is the appropriate one. I can't understand why they have written it with "in".

    Thank you
  2. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    Interesting point. The sentence sounds all right to me. I suppose it's similar to the usual difference between being in (i.e. inside) and at (you're just there without necessarily being inside a building). A village isn't a building, but you're in it in the sense that you're surrounded by the houses.
  3. dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    That isn't correct. The split between "in" and "at" is not about proper names and general terms. I don't know exact rules, but here are some rough ideas:

    We use "in" about an area. I live in the city. I work in London. I walked in a park. I stayed in a village. We also use "in" for "inside" (live in an aparment, meet me in the restaurant, work in an office).

    We use "at" about a place. At least conceptually, it is an exact spot. I live at 33 Elm street. I arrived at the airport. I arrived at the bus stop. We ate at Chez Gourmand. My kids are at school.

    We can't "arrive at" a city or village or town: it is too big. What if driving through the town takes 10 minutes? In which of those 10 minutes did you "arrive"? "Arriving" happens in an instant, not over a period of time. When your bus pulls to a stop and the driver turns the engine off, you have "arrived". It happened that minute.

    We can arrive at a hotel, at a bus stop or at the village square. Once we have arrived at one spot in the village, we are in the village. So I suppose when people say "I arrived in the village" they mean something like "I arrived (at my destination in the village) and now I am in the village".
  4. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    I suppose also I arrived in the village means I went into the village and then I was in it. I arrived at the village would sound odd to me - as though I'd hung about the edge of the village without going into the village.
    I think I'd say I arrived at Waterstone, where Waterstone is a hamlet consisting of three or four houses so I couldn't actually be 'in' it.
  5. boozer Senior Member

    'In' should be always appropriate if you get the sense of 'containment' or 'enclosure' or of 'being surrounded' after arriving. I agree with all that has been said - the place has to be big enough to take you 'in'.

    Also, we arrive at conclusions, decisions etc.
  6. kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    Yes, it can be used that way if that is the intention. For instance, an explorer might write that way in his journal.

    We arrived at the village in the evening but waited until the next morning to enter.

    They are at but not in the village.

    Similarly, I think you always arrive at the castle and not in the castle because you're not automatically in upon arrival.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  7. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English

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