Today, I’m going to show you how to talk about (and how not to talk about) visiting people in English. While you’re here, check out the 17 best Clark and Miller English lessons from 2017.
Visiting people — such a simple concept, right?
I mean — this is kind of elementary English stuff, right?
Well, my answer to that is “yes, it is!” and “no, it isn’t.”
“Yes” because you’ve been talking about visiting people since you started speaking English — since elementary.
But also “no” for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, advanced English learners get this wrong. A lot.
This means that you might be getting it wrong, too.
Secondly, there are also some neat shortcuts you can use to sound more natural when talking about visiting people (and people visiting you).
So let’s clean up these mistakes, pick up some awesome new phrases, and then we can all eat cake. Or go bowling. Or whatever you like doing.
How not to talk about visiting people in English
OK. Let’s start with a classic mistake I hear very, very often when learners talk about visiting people.
Here it is, coming from Yasemin.
Now, this is technically correct, but it doesn’t mean what Yasemin thinks it means.
She thinks she’s talking about visiting her sister. But she isn’t.
OK. So what does it mean?
First, let’s look at the structure:
This phrase isn’t about visiting a person.
This phrase is about asking for help from someone.
For example, here’s Anton:
Anton is going to buy a house. He’s found the house and his bank has agreed to give him the mortgage. He’s excited.
See how excited he is?
But there’s one problem.
Because Anton lives in one of those countries with a very confusing bureaucracy, he needs a signature from a police officer or a tennis teacher before the bank can give him the mortgage.
But Anton doesn’t know a police officer or a tennis teacher.
One day he’s talking to his friend, Simge about his problem.
Fortunately, Simge’s brother is a tennis teacher.
So she says this:
We go to someone when we want that person to solve our problem.
It has no connection at all to visiting them.
That’s why we use “go to” with doctors and dentists:
“After going to the dentist, I really need to go to a psychologist.”
These people solve our problems!
So how do I talk about visiting people in English?
There are a few ways we can describe visiting someone.
How to talk about visiting people #1 — Use “visit”
The simplest and most obvious way we can talk about visiting someone is by using the word “cucumber.”
Wait, no! “Visit!” Use “visit.” It’s “visit.”
So Yasemin can fix her mistake simply by using “visit.”
Remember — we don’t use a preposition after “visit,” so don’t say “I visited
to my sister” or “I visited with my sister.”
This solution is simple and clean, but it’s a little on the formal side, so it might make you sound a little robotic.
We also tend to use this word when it’s a big deal, like going to another town (or country) to visit someone.
But what about when we want to be less formal?
How to talk about visiting people #2 — Use the wonderful apostrophe!
So if “visit” is a little formal, how do we sound a bit more natural and relaxed?
I’d say the most common way is by using the apostrophe.
What does that mean?
Well, there are two ways Yasemin can deal with this.
The first way is quite simple — we just use this formula:
Remember — and I want to make this point quite strongly because it’s a mistake I hear a lot– we don’t use “home” here. It sounds weird!
So don’t say “I went to Alexa’s
Also, remember we would still say “house” in this sentence even if Alexa lives in a flat. Or a lighthouse. Or a cave.
Quite simple, right?
But there’s a trick we can use to make this quicker and even cleaner.
We can just remove the word “house.”
So that means Yasemin has a few options now:
How do I talk about people visiting me in English?
You’re full of good questions today — nice one!
OK. So let’s say it’s a different weekend and Yasemin is talking about her sister again.
But this time she says:
This is the same type of mistake that Yasemin made before, which means we can use the same solution:
But this time, because Yasemin is talking about someone visiting her, there’s an extra phrase she can use:
The phrasal verb “come round” or “come over” simply means “come to my house.”
If we want to make it clearer, we can add “to mine”:
“Don’t go out. It’s too expensive. Come round to mine.”
We can also say “have someone over” or “have someone round.”
“We had 17 people round for Christmas. I made a fantastic potato dish. With cucumbers.”
So now we have 6 different ways of talking about visiting people in English:
Bonus: go up to someone
Remember Yasemin’s original mistake?
In this situation she was talking about visiting her sister, right?
But what do you say when you want to talk about someone walking in your direction and then being next to you — physically approaching you.
Again Yasemin might say “He went to me.”
Again she’d be mistaken.
In this case, we just say “go up to someone.”
“I went up to her and told her what I thought of her. She didn’t like it.”
So now you can talk about visiting people and people visiting you, approaching people for help and physically approaching people.
Let’s finish off with a question:
When was the last time you had more than 5 people round? What did you do?
Let me know in the comments and we can share our stories and get the conversation going!
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