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Good day to everyone,

I am a student here in Japan studying 日本語 and I was watching a few videos of Japanese lessons and noticed that there are a lot of verbs that have the same meaning. For example, Touchaku suru, Tsuku and Todoku all mean "to arrive". Are there any instances wherein one is used more than the other? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you!

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Disclaimer: This is based mostly on my own experience.

着く{つく} is the most commonly used verb for "arrive", as in "I've arrived at the station".

届く{とどく} tends to be used for things or abstract concepts. For example, on instant messenger, if you send a message and you want to check if the other person got the message because you didn't get a response, you would use 届く. You can also use it for feelings; it is commonly used for love, e.g. 私の気持ちが届いたでしょう, which can be properly translated as "I wonder if my feelings arrived?", but more loosely as "I wonder if you understood my feelings (i.e. I love you, etc)".

到着する{とうちゃくする} tends to be used for long distances and/or for long-distance modes of transportation, and especially most commonly for airplanes. For example, when your airplane lands, you may send a text message to your friends/family saying 到着した.

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    I gave you a +1 but would like to add that 到着する does not need to be a long distance trip. It may be used in short trips as well. For example: 渋谷駅を12:00に出発して、新宿駅には12:07に到着する予定です。 – DXV Apr 9 at 1:54
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    It just means "to arrive at a destination". (Source) dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/156378/meaning/m0u – DXV Apr 9 at 2:13
  • Hmm sorry I had to google translate because I've just been studying for around 1 month right now. So touchaku suru is like a bit formal i guess? and Tsuku is for something like "hey i just arrived here in Japan", and Todoku is for things like "The letter arrived!". Am I correct to assume this? – Jp Arcilla Apr 9 at 2:24
  • Also, much thanks. This site is really full of helpful people. :) – Jp Arcilla Apr 9 at 2:33
  • @DXV Having walked it personally, I can confirm that Shibuya station to Shinjuku station is quite far, even though it's only a couple minutes by train ;-) – Ertai87 Apr 9 at 14:28
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着く is the most basic word you use when something arrives at a location.

到着する has nothing different with 着く except it is a Sino-Japanese word that sounds slightly more formal. Besides, it is easily turned into a noun 到着 "arrival" which 着く is normally not able.

届く is literally closer to "reach", but more specifically telling that something is at the location to be passed to somebody. A train stops at a station doesn't mean the station obtains the train, so you can't say 届く. Also not for people unless you're committing human trafficking.

飛行機が空港に着く = 飛行機が空港に到着する the plane arrives at the airport

飛行機が空港に届く the plane is delivered to the airport

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