I capelli di mia sorella le arrivano alle spalle.

The verb seems a bit odd to me here - Can this phrase also be used with either “raggiungere” or “giungere”? What is typical for normal speech?

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I think “arrivare” is as much “to reach” as “to arrive”, so it fits better with that meaning.

I agree that “raggiungere” makes sense too, but I can’t say which verb a native speaker would be more likely to use.

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Exactly, it seems the mainly used verb for hair reaching the shoulders/shoulder-length hair on Tatoeba, with only one additional instance of “cadere”: “…ha i capelli che le cadono sulle spalle”, and a couple of constructions which just use “fino alle spalle” or “all’altezza delle spalle”.

Indeed, especially given the phrasings of the first and fourth definitions of “arrivare” here:

  1. giungere in un determinato posto, raggiungere un certo luogo
  • il circo è arrivato in città
  1. riuscire a prendere o toccare qualcosa
  • non ci arrivo!
  1. ( familiare ) capire qualcosa, nella maggior parte dei casi molto importante per la persona stessa che ne ha preso coscienza o in generale
  • non ci è arrivato
  1. raggiungere un certo livello di altezza, grandezza o simili
  • quel palazzo arriva ai 20 metri

But it seems perhaps in these kinds of sentences about hair-length, and the hair reaching a specific point, it primarily refers to the second definition?

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This is very helpful, thanks!

Yet another example of me struggling to “un-English” my speech.

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I’ve often seen your AI advice on Duo not to translate literally, so here “hair” definitely takes on different phrases. This sentence crops up regularly on Busuu who explain it well.

Thanks. I do appreciate you can’t be literal. I had just wondered if this was the standard phrase, or if others would fit. It’s good to learn this is standard.