All About Arriver

Learn about the French verb arriver

Arrival of a metro, Paris
Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/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

Expressions with Arriver


Present tense
   tu arrives
   il arrive
   nous arrivons
   vous arrivez
   ils arrivent

Arriver in all tenses