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Visiter vs Rendre Visite – To Visit in French

Visiter vs Rendre Visite – To Visit in French

The purpose of today’s lesson is to dispel some confusion over how to say “to visit” in French. Here’s the rule: The verb visiter is used for visiting places and rendre visite à is used for visiting people. For example, je visite Paris (I visit Paris) and je rends visite à mon ami (I visit my friend). This rule is set in stone and is a common mistake among students. Let’s jump right into the lesson!

visiter, rendre visite à

to visit

Visiter vs Rendre visite: "to visit" in French - Word of the Day lesson

Visiter vs. Rendre Visite

Visiter – to visit a place

Let’s start with visiter, which is specificially used for visiting places. Visiter is a regular ER verb, which means that its endings are the same as all other regular ER verbs when conjugated in the present tense. Here’s the present tense conjugation:

Je visite I visit
Tu visites You visit
Il, elle, on visite He, she one visits
Nous visitons We visit
Vous visitez You visit
Ils, elles visitent They visit

In our first example, you’ll see that the definite article les (the preceding plural noun) precedes les Etats-Unis (the United States). The rule for visiter is: visiter + definite article + country. For cities, the rule is visiter + city name.

Marie visite les États-Unis.

Marie visits the United States.

Je visite la France. Je visite Paris.

I visit France. I visit Paris.

Rendre visite

Our second verb for “to visit” is rendre visite. This is specifically used for visiting people. The grammatical construction is as followed: Rendre visite à + person.

Je rends visite à à I visit
Tu rends visite à à You visit
Il, elle, on rend visite à He, she, one visits
Nous rendons visite à We visit
Vous rendez visite à You visit
Ils, elles rendent visite à They visit

This verb must be followed by the preposition à (meaning to or at). Hence, what you’re really saying is “to render a visit to + person”. An Englsih equivalant is “to pay somebody a visit”.

For this construction, the verb rendre gets conjugated and visite is like a non moving part that does not get conjugated. Rendre is a regular RE verb.

Here are some example sentences using rendre visite.

Ils vont rendre visite à leurs beaux-parents demain.

They’re going to visit their in-laws tomorrow.

Pierre rend visite à ses copains en Suisse.

Pierre is visiting his friends in Switzerland.


Et voilà ! You know know how to say “to visit” in French and are clear on visiter vs. rendre visite. Now check out our lesson covering bosser (slang verb for to work).

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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,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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