Using the French Verb "Arriver"

Arrival of a Paris metro

Owen Franken / Getty Images

Arriver is one of the most common French verbs. It's a regular -ER verb but takes être in the compound tenses. Arriver literally means "to arrive," but is also used in some idiomatic expressions and as an impersonal verb.

Arriver usually means "to arrive":

À quelle heure vont-ils arriver ? - What time will they arrive?
Je suis arrivé à midi . - I arrived at noon.

Arriver can also mean "to come, be coming, be on one's way."

J'arrive - I'm coming! I'll be right there/back!
Le voici qui arrive . - Here he comes now.

Arriver à

Arriver à plus a noun means "to reach, attain, get to," literally and figuratively:

Il est vite arrivé à la conclusion évidente . - He quickly reached the obvious conclusion.
L'eau m'arrive jusqu'aux chevilles . - The water reaches/comes up to my ankles.

Arriver à plus an infinitive means "to manage to do, succeed in doing":

Je n'arrive pas à trouver mes clés . - I can't (manage to) find my keys.
David est arrivé à le faire tout seul . - David succeeded in doing by himself.

To Happen

Arriver can mean "to happen":

Ce sont des choses qui arrivent . - These things happen.
Cela ne m'arrivera plus . - I won't let that happen (to me) again.

Arriver can also be used impersonally to mean "to happen, occur, be." The difference between this and the preceding examples is that impersonal verbs cannot have any subject other than the impersonal pronoun il:

Il est arrivé un accident . - There's been an accident.
Quoi qu'il arrive . - Whatever happens.
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Team, ThoughtCo. "Using the French Verb "Arriver"." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Using the French Verb "Arriver". Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Using the French Verb "Arriver"." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).