Visiting with

I’ve noticed in novels and other things in American English that I’ve read recently that people talk about ‘visiting with’ friends or other people, in the sense of spending time with them. In British English you might visit a place with a friend, but you don’t usually visit with a friend in the American sense.

I just put “visit with” into and the first site in the results is one entitled “Places To Visit With The Family UK”. In though, one of the first results is a story about someone who can “visit with his grandchildren while out on bail”. I would use see in place of visit with in this context.

To me at least, going to visit somewhere or someone sounds like a relatively formal activity – you might visit someone in hospital or prison, or visit relatives, especially if they live quite a way away, but you would go to see your friends.

In American (or other flavours of) English is there a differences in meaning between going to visit someone and visiting with someone?

Do other languages distinguish different types of visit?

23 thoughts on “Visiting with

  1. I’m american and I do recognize that use of visit, but I’d never use it; it sounds too formal. Like you, I’d most likely “go see” my friends.

  2. I wasn’t aware that Americans do say “visit with”. I always use “visit” normally (Visit place X). Well, I’m not American myself but I didn’t notice anyone commenting on this usage.

    Speaking in the frame of classical Arabic, I believe, like other things, visiting got many names depending on the length of the stay or maybe the distance traveled even. Anyway, currently I’m not sure of these terms right now.

    Culturally, here in Kuwait we usually say “sayyar `ala” (he passed by) for a fast visit, or a visit done by someone who is already outside for other purposes. Otherwise, a visit can be (in present tense) [yazoor] (he visits) or [yimur `ala] (goes to, passes by or on; like above).

    Just to note as well, in the usual religious context for Shiite Muslims, there are bodies of texts that are recited and namely they are called Ziyárát (plural; sing. Ziyárah), and in Farsi the singular takes the form [ziyárat]. It is a text recited and dedicated as a greetings (and even speaking) to some holy personality. Ziyárah means “a visit”, and usually most of these texts are supposed to be read when a person or a pilgrim is in a specific shrine of that holy place of that holy person (e.g. imam Ali’s shrine in Najaf). However, there are some of these texts that are dedicated to some of those holy personalities but to be read on regular basis without being really in the holy place itself, and still it is called Ziyárah normally.

  3. It may be more common in the Southern US. This is where I live, and the term seems quite familiar to me. (Indeed, in some way that I cannot define, the term “visit with” sounds “Southern” to me.)

    As far as connotation goes, this is how I would break it down:

    “I visited my mother”: The quality of the time together is unknown — but the event is not routine and the time together was either long (“I visited my mother during Passover”) or quite brief (“I visited my mother while I was out running errands”), but probably not intermediate.

    “I visited with my mother”: The quality of the time together was high, and the event was probably routine (or at least frequent). The time together was long enough to get settled, and perhaps have a meal, but not long enough to include separations and re-gatherings: “I visited with my mother last Sunday; we watched a movie while she mended a couple of holes in my jacket, and then I helped her file her taxes online.”

  4. TJ,

    I think you’re using it perfectly. “Visit with” might be used in some contexts with a person — but not with a place.

    And even with a person, it would never sound wrong just to say “visit”. Even Americans (such as myself) who use “visit with” in some contexts would never notice (and certainly never perceive it as erroneous) if you omitted the “with”.

  5. I pretty much agree with JoeInAtlanta and would just add that for me, ‘visit with’ can also have connotations of catching up on news (relatively recent since it implies that visits are common) and a warm emotional bond that plain old visit doesn’t have.

    There’s also ‘visit together’ where ‘together’ means the same as ‘with each other’.

  6. As an American I personally don’t use “visit with”.

    The OED also agrees pretty much with JoeInAtlanta, under 8f. of the entry of the verb and noted as an American expression:

    “To go to see (a person) in a friendly or sociable manner; to call upon as an act of friendliness or politeness, or for some special purpose; also, to stay with for a short time as a guest.”

  7. I agree with dreaminjosh–I’ve heard this expression before, but I’d never personally use it; it sounds familiar but slightly weird to my ears (American, from Connecticut). I’d say “I visited my mother on Sunday” or “I’m going to visit friends in Eindhoven tomorrow” (both true), but the only time I’d use “visit with” in any context would be grammatically different:
    Q: “Did you visit Paris alone?”
    A: “No, I visited with friends.”

  8. I only thought of this because of this topic… In Dutch, ‘to visit’ is used as a verb ‘bezoeken’, but it’s quite formal and not very common. You can also say ‘iemand een bezoek brengen’: ‘to bring someone a visit’. Slightly less formal.

    Then there is ‘op visite gaan’ (‘to go on visitation’), which is common in usage, but only used when the visit itself is a bit formal – older relatives or friends. That’s a bit weird, now I come to think of it…

    Most common way of saying you are going to spend time with someone is ‘naar iemand toe gaan’ or ‘bij iemand langs gaan’ (‘to go to somebody’ or ‘to go by someone(‘s place)’).

  9. In Polish

    odwiedzać – visit a person

    zwiedzać – visit a place

    wizyta (noun) exists but it closer to appointment (doctor’s visit)

  10. To me, “visiting with” is more the act of chatting, gossiping, catching up on things with the person in question, and “visiting” them means going to their geographic location. I might, for instance, go to visit friend A at their house, and wind up visiting with them and mutual friend B who happened to be present when I got there.

  11. Also, I agree that going to “see” a friend sounds more casual and less planned than going to “visit” them.

  12. After visiting a Japanese-speaker, you may well be encouraged to come round again with the endearing phrase: 「それじゃ、また遊びに来てくださいね!」”Sore ja, mata asobi ni kite kudasai ne!” (lit: Well then, do come by again ‘to play’). ‘Asobi ni kuru’ is here used in the sense of visiting and spending time with someone socially in a more informal context, perhaps akin to the American usage of “visit with”. Contrast this with the verb「訪問する」”Houmon suru”, used to describe the official state ‘visit’ or otherwise of politicians/dignitaries etc.

  13. Like Petrea, I hear a distinction between “visit my mother” (take a planned trip to see her in her home) and “visit with my mother” (chat, even over the phone). I use “visit with” in informal contexts to describe conversations among close friends or family. (American, Midwest/Great Plains)

  14. I’m Canadian, and I would definitely use “visit with.” It means hang out with, chat, catch up, spend time together, etc… and is a lot more informal than “visit.” The event of “visiting with” can be informal, and is generally short and can happen anywhere… you can run into someone at the grocery store and end up visiting with that person for a bit, for example. “Visiting X,” on the other hand, implies some sort of trip whose express purpose is to visit a certain location or person (or group of people), and is usually planned in advance. As JoeInAtlanta stated previously, there is also a qualitative difference. I could, for example, go visit family in another town for a few days, even if those family members weren’t with me most of the time. In that case, I would be visiting them without visiting with them.

  15. I’m Canadian too, and I might even say, “I had a visit with X”, meaning that we sat down and spent time together talking and made a connection.

  16. In Welsh, I would say “ymweld â” to visit a person or a place (actually, I’d quite likely just say “mynd i weld”, i.e. “go to see”). Since “â” means “with”, I suppose that would literally translate as “visit with”. In English, I (as a native British speaker) am not aware of having ever used “visit with” except perhaps in the context of “places to visit with your family” etc.

    Interestingly, when I consulted the Welsh Academy Dictionary to confirm that my usage was correct, I discovered that they listed “visit with” as an American idiom, with two translations. One was “aros gyda rhywun” (stay with someone) and the other was as a synonym for chat. These seem to reflect the usages mentioned in earlier comments from across the pond.

  17. I agree with Magnus in the above comment.
    ymweld â – to (pay a) visit (with)
    mynd i weld – go to see.
    Ymweld (â) is the verb-noun ‘gweld’ (to see) with the reflexive prefix ‘ym-‘ (ym- (g) + weld) to visit.
    Gallen ni ymweld â ‘ch … – we could visit their …
    Ymwelwch â ‘n siop – visit our siop.
    There are other constructions with galw (to call)
    galw heibio i rywun – to call on someone
    and ‘taro i mewn’ is a short visit bit like ‘drop in’ or ‘stop by’, ‘bump into’ etc.

  18. I agree with Petrea and others. I don’t use it much, but I would use “visit with” to mean hang out with, converse with, spend time with.

    It’s almost like the two meanings have peeled away from each other semantically: “Visit” taking a direct object, and “visit with” taking an indirect object. The latter would always have that imperfect/progressive aspect to it, and it would also require a reciprocal or collaborative action. You “visit” (a place or person) by yourself, and the action is finite and is eventually completed. But when you “visit with” somebody, that person also “visits with” you, and the action is taken to be ongoing in terms of aspect.

  19. As a Wisconsin native who also has lived in Florida for 15 years, I agree with much of the above. “Visit with” has been common wherever I have lived. “Visit” has a geographic implication to me – you went somewhere to see someone or something. “Visit with” is more of a social meaning. You can visit with your next door neighbor who you see every day, just as well as someone further away. That being said, I don’t think you would “visit with” someone who lives in your home. You wouldn’t visit with your spouse or your child if they live with you, so there is an implied movement to or stopping by another location.

  20. JoeInAtlanta is right. It’s more of a Southern construction, but it needs to be stressed that you can “visit with” someone at any location, regardless of whether you even left your own house. Your mom comes to your house, and you visit with her there. You and your mom go out to eat, and you visit with each other at the restaurant. You can also say “we visited,” as in “she came by on the way to Sally’s house and we visited for an hour.”

  21. “Visit with” is another way of saying talking to someone. I’m from the Midwest and it’s more the older people that say it. Like sometimes teachers at school will say, “When you finish your assignment, you can visit with the person next to you,” or something like that.

  22. For those learning French- in this language there are two verbs to vist:
    “visiter” for places but “rendre visite a”for people so “j’ai visité Paris” but “je suis rendu(e) visite a mon ami”. (The “a” has a grave accent which I can’t do on my laptop!)

  23. In Orthodox Jewish communities I hear the phrase “to be by” for the British “to visit with.” I suspect it comes from Yiddish with the nature of the word “bai”

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