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Why Is It Incorrect to Say That You Visit People in French

When learning a foreign language, we sometimes try to use words from our mother tongue. Sometimes it works perfectly. If you don’t know a word in French, you can try to say the English word the French way. The word you pronounced à la française might be the exact one! It would be pretty simple to learn French if this rule worked every time. But it doesn’t. In the following lines, check out how this principle does not apply to the verb “to visit” in French.

You may know that there are faux amis in various languages. This phenomenon represents words that look similar in different languages, but have different meanings. Such is the case with the verb « visiter » in French.

You can « visiter » a country, a museum, a city, but not people. Here are some examples.

  1. Pierre et sa femme visitent Paris cet été.

  2. Sophie visite le musée d’Orsay.

  3. Avec ma famille, j’ai visité la Grèce deux fois.

On the other hand, if you’re visiting a person, you’ll use a different verb. You’ll use: rendre visite à quelqu’un. Take a look at the following examples:

  1. Pierre et sa femme rendent visite à leurs amis.

  2. Sophie rend visite à ses copains.

  3. Avec ma famille, j’ai rendu visite à une amie d’enfance.

Next time you visit a friend and talk about it, make sure to use the proper verb.


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