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According to goo, We can say 「彼を訪ねる」 but not 「彼を訪れる」 and we should instead say 「彼の家を訪れる」if we use the verb 訪れる. Does it have a nuance? Does it open the doors to another interpretation(visiting his house instead of visiting him for example)?

I know this classification is debatable, but 訪れる is JLPT 1 and 訪ねる is JLPT 4 on jisho.org, is 訪れる more formal or rare than 訪ねる?

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Regarding frequency first, 訪れる is roughly three times more common than 訪ねる on BCCWJ. 訪れる is seven times more common if we limit the results to Yahoo! blog/chiebukuro articles, which indicates 訪ねる is even less common in relatively casual written materials. I personally think you should master 訪れる first. But 訪ねる is not uncommon at all, and you may have to learn it before JLPT 1 level.

IMHO, ~を訪れる is a neutral word usable in business settings and other everyday situations. You can also say ~に訪れる. (Note that 訪ねる is not a keigo and you often have to use honorific いらっしゃる or humble 伺う/お邪魔する instead.)

On the other hand, when an object is a place name, I feel ~を訪ねる is a rather literary and somewhat "nostalgic" term typically used with historical attractions (石川啄木ゆかりの地を訪ねる), one's hometown (母校を訪ねる), temples/shrines (東北の神社を訪ねる旅), etc. Using it with nearby modern facilities (e.g. 駅前のクリニックを訪ねる) is fine in stiff novels, but it can sound a little off in ordinary blog articles and such.

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  • Thanks for the answer but I have the impression that this part of the question is not addressed?=> "We can say 「彼を訪ねる」 but not 「彼を訪れる」 and we should instead say 「彼の家を訪れる」if we use the verb 訪れる. Does it have a nuance? Does it open the doors to another interpretation(visiting his house instead of visiting him for example)?" – Jirei Aug 8 '18 at 8:00
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    @Jirei 彼を訪れる is plain ungrammatical. 彼を訪ねる and 彼の[家/職場/学校]を訪れる are usually interchangeable, but of course you cannot say 彼を訪ねる if 彼 is a dead/missing person. I think there's nothing unsurprising here. – naruto Aug 8 '18 at 8:11
  • Maybe there is a little typo when you say "one's hometown (母校...". – Tommy Aug 9 '18 at 7:53
  • @naruto I agree that 彼を訪れる sounds a little funny, but ジーニアス和英辞典 contains the example sentence 私は友人[友人のアパート]を訪れた, suggesting that a person can indeed be the object. I also found several examples in Weblio where the object was 私たち or 叔父, etc. I'm trying to figure out if my gut reaction reflects a real thing (that 訪れる more typically takes a location) or simply some internal bias. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts here. – どっかのおっさん Apr 10 '20 at 21:55
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    @どっかのおっさん I wouldn't say 友人を訪れる is wrong but it sounds a little unnatural to me. 友人の家を訪れる is much more common. – naruto Apr 14 '20 at 1:38

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