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:

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  • 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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About David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site, FrenchLearner.com, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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