How to say it in Hebrew
Tip #50

I am often asked...

How do I say "to visit" in Hebrew?

How do I say "to visit"?

At first there seems to be nothing special about it – you go to the dictionary, look the word "visit" up and there you have it – לְבַקֵּר!
What's so special about it?

Well, you, probably know by now, what the two biggest challenges of Hebrew are – obviously, the verb conjugation (actually, quite fun and logical - if learnt properly!) and something so tiny that can be easily overlooked – the verb prepositions! It can become quite confusing when in most cases same prepositions as in English are used, but for some nasty verbs – it works quite differently!

Most obvious examples would be – we do not "help someone", we "help TO someone"! (לַעֲזֹר לַמִּישֶׁהוּ) We do not "talk to him" – we talk WITH him", always. (לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ, לְדַבֵּר עִם מִישֶׁהוּ) And the worst – we do not "use something" – we… is it going to be a surprise? ;) We "use IN something"! מִשְׁתַּמְּשִׁים בַּמַּשֶּׁהוּ.

So, how does it apply to "visiting"? What's the unexpected preposition here?
Well, in this case it gets quite subtle. Because we have several options. Let me explain.

When we "go to visit Grandma" we say הוֹלְכִים לְבַקֵּר אֶת הַסָּבְתָא. So far so good.
But if we want to visit Israel – which is a place, and not a person – then we "are going to visit IN Israel" הוֹלְכִים לְבַקֵּר בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל.

More examples:
אָבוֹא לַבָּקָר אוֹתְךָ מָתַיְשֶׁהוּ. I'll come to visit you some day.
שלווום! תִּרְאוּ מִי בָּא לְבַקֵּר אוֹתָנוּ – דּוֹד מֹשֶׁה! Helooo! Look who came to visit us – uncle Moshe!
(or, perhaps, old McDonald? because… שיר על דוד משה..)
בַּחַיִּים לֹא בִּקַּרְתִּי בְּרוֹמָא. I've never in my life visited Rome.
אֲנִי מְתַכְנֵן לְבַקֵּר בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל בְּשָׁנָה הֲבָאָה. I am planning to visit Israel next year.
Complication #1 - an additional preposition!

So far so good, but there is one nuance here. Sometimes, instead of אֶת for visiting people we use a unique preposition – אֵצֶל.
You can get the feeling of it comparing to the English – "at the doctors'" (vs "in the doctors' office") – אֵצֶל הָרוֹפֵא . In Hebrew, unlike English, it's quite common to say "to visit AT the grandma's" (~to visit Grandma's place)* – לְבַקֵּר אֵצֶל סָבְתָא.

I think some more examples would help us here:
מֵאֵיפֹה אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ?בִּקַּרְתִּי אֵצֶל הַשְּׁכֵנִים, הֵם סִפְּרוּ לִי.
How do you know?I visited the neighbors, they told me.
אַתֶּם לֹא צְרִיכִים לַחֲזֹר הַבַּיְתָה הַיּוֹם,
אַתֶּם יְכוֹלִים לִישֹׁן אֶצְלִי!*
You don't have to come back home today, you can sleep at my place!

Complication #2 – an additional meaning!
If that would be it would be great. But we have another complication with the 'visit" verb – last one, I promise! :) It happens to have another meaning, - a meaning that's totally different from the "visit" meaning! Let's see if you can guess it (unless you already know) – look at these sentences -
הוּא תָּמִיד מְבַקֵּר אוֹתִי, הוּא אַף פַּעַם לֹא מְרֻצֶּה מִמָּה שֶׁאֲנִי עוֹשֶׂה
or this:
תַּפְסִיק לְבַקֵּר כָּל הַזְּמַן אֶת מָה שֶׁאֲנַחְנוּ עוֹשִׂים וְתַצִּיעַ כְּבָר מַשֶּׁהוּ!
What could it be? Hope you guessed correctly! This second meaning is "to criticize."

Translating the sentences above -
"he is always criticizing me, never happy with what I do"
"Stop criticizing all the time what I do and just suggest something!"
One thing is definitely good about it – verbs with this meaning take only one preposition "אֶת", that's it! ????
* Interestingly, this word is also used in combination with personal pronouns – אֶצְלִי, אֶצְלֵנוּ and it means something like "for me/us," "talking about me/us"
אֶצְלֵנוּ הַכֹּל בְּסֵדֶר, וּמָה אֶצְלְכֶם?
~All's fine on our side – how about you?
אֶצְלֵנוּ זֶה לֹא נִקְרָא "סָבְבָה," אֶצְלֵנוּ זֶה נִקְרָא "בְּעָיָה גְּדוֹלָה!"!
We don't call it "cool stuff," we call it "big problem"!
There is a good song that uses this expression all the time (you may have heard it already if you took the songs' course!) - אֶצְלִי הַכֹּל בְּסֵדֶר

The noun from the "visit" meaning is בִּקּוּר – a visit,
and the noun form "to criticize" – בִּקֹּרֶת – criticism!
Example of them both in one sentence -
בִּזְמַן הַבִּקּוּר שֶׁלִּי אֶצְלוֹ הוּא סִפֵּר לִי שֶׁהַסֵּפֶר שֶׁהוּא כָּתַב אָמְנָם קִבֵּל בִּקּוֹרוֹת טוֹבוֹת, אַךְ לֹא נִמְכַּר טוֹב בִּכְלָל.
When I was visiting him, he told me that the book he wrote got good reviews, however, it's not sold well at all.
מְקַוֶּה שֶׁלֹּא תְּבַקְּרוּ אוֹתִי עַל הַמִּכְתָּב שֶׁיָּצָא קְצָת אָרֹךְ,
(Hope you won't criticize me for the letter that turned out to be quite long,)
וּכְמוֹ כֵן מְקַוָּה שֶׁתָּבוֹאוּ לַבִּקּוּר לָאֶחָד הַקּוֹרְסִים שֶׁלִּי!
(and hope that you'll jump for a visit to one of my courses!)

See you next week with the next Hebrew-tip,
Happy Hebrew-learning,
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