visiter vs rendre visite à

visiter vs se rendre visiteThere are two ways to say to visit in French: visiter and rendre visite à. Beginner students are often unaware of the difference between the two. In short, visiter means to visit a place while rendre visite à means to visit a person. In this post we’ll examine the two verbs with the help of some example sentences.

Before we go any further let’s a look at the two verbs in the present tense:

VISITERRENDRE VISITE À
je visite
tu visites
il, elle, on visite
nous visitons
vous visitez
ils, elles visitent
je rends visite à
tu rends visite à
il, elle, on rend visite à
nous rendons visite à
vous rendez visite à
ils, elles rendent visite à

visiter – to visit (a place).

The verb visiter is used to express visiting a place. This is very straightforward. Here are some examples:

  • Nous visitons la France. We visit France.
  • Ils visitent Marseille. They visit Marseille.
  • Je visite les États-Unis. I visit the United States.

However, we cannot use visit to express visiting a person. For example, saying ‘Je visite Pierre‘, to mean ‘I visit Pierre’. Would be wrong.

Aller‘ (to go) is a synonym for visiter. Par example:

  • Je vais visiter l’Italie. I’m visiting Italy.
  • Je vais aller en Italie. I’m going to to Italy.

rendre visite à

Rendre visite à is used for visiting people. The grammatical structure is ‘rendre visite + person‘. As shown in the table above, the verb ‘rendre‘ is conjugated and the word ‘visite‘ doesn’t change in any form. Hence, ‘visite‘ is like a non-moving part. Here are some example sentences:

  • Pierre rend visite à sa soeur. Pierre visits his sister.
  • Je rends visite à mon professeur. I visit my teacher.
  • Nous rendons visite à notre famille. We visit our family.
  • Ils ont rendre visite à leurs enfants. They’re going to visit their kids.

Again, under no circumstance can ‘vister’ on its own be used for visiting a person. We absolutely must use rendre visite à. So, Quand est-ce que vous me rendez visite? (When are you visiting me?)

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