Visiter vs Rendre visite

Visiter vs rendre visite
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To visit

The French verb visiter is a cognate, so it’s easy to think it’s a perfect equivalent for "to visit." Unfortunately, it’s not.

Visiter means to visit a place, such as a city or monument.

Par exemple…

Nous visitons Nice la semaine prochaine.   We’re visiting Nice next week.
J’espère visiter la Corse un jour.   I hope to visit Corsica some day.
Il a déjà visité le Louvre.   He has already visited the Louvre.

Synonym: aller à

Easy enough, right? The problem is that visiter can only be used for inanimate nouns.

 When visiting people, the French expression is rendre visite à.

Nous rendons visite à notre fille à Nice.   We’re visiting our daughter in Nice.
J’espère rendre visite à Michel en Corse.   I hope to visit Michel in Corsica.
Il a déjà rendu visite à ses amis à Paris.   He has already visited his friends in Paris.

Synonym: aller voir

Likewise, there are two different nouns equivalent to "visit":

A visit to a place, a tour = une visite

Sa visite du Louvre a duré 2 heures.   His Louvre visit lasted for 2 hours.
Quelles sont les heures de visite ?   What are the visiting hours?

A visit to a person, a stay somewhere = un séjour

Notre séjour à Nice durera 15 jours.   Our visit to Nice will last for 15 days.
Pendant le séjour chez ses amis …   During the visit to his friends …

The French equivalents for "visitor" are a bit more complicated.

  • une visite (always feminine) = person visiting another person
  • un visiteur, une visiteuse = museum or exhibition visitor
  • un invité, une invitée = home guest
  • un client, une cliente = hotel guest

 En résumé

      Visiting a …
Place Person
To visit visiter
aller à
rendre visite
aller voir
Visit une visite un séjour
Visitor un visiteur
un client
une visite
un invité

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1 Response

  1. George Green 15 February 2018 / 6:59

    J’aime le site.. c’est tres utile apprendre les nuances et les usages.