彼は昨日私を訪れた。

English Translation

He called on me yesterday.

訪ねる
訪れる
伺う
見舞う

What are the variations in connotation between these words for “to visit”?

I only understand that 伺う is 謙譲語。

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@ericaw

  • 伺う = As you explained, it is one of 謙譲語. So, you cannot use it in 彼は私を伺った (= the doer is “he”, not “yourself”).
  • 見舞う = to ask someone’s status (of mostly health or mental conditions, or of damages from disasters). お見舞いに行く means “to visit a patient in a hospital or a victim to cheer him/her up”. You’ll see 暑中お見舞い申し上げます on a typical seasonal greeting card during the summer season, which means “how are you doing in such a hot summer season?” The Kanji 舞う means “to dance”, so I hope you now get the nuance of “cheer him/her up”. 見舞う can be done by physically visiting or sending a message/gift via phone, letter. email etc.
  • The difference between 訪ねる and 訪れる as transitive verbs is subtle. ~を訪ねる = to visit a place to see someone whereas ~を訪れる = to visit a place.

One of the reliable Japanese-Japanese dictionaries, 小学館 類語例解辞典 explicitly explains here that 彼を訪れる is grammatically incorrect, and it should be 彼の家を訪れる or 彼を訪ねる. So, the original Japanese sentence should be replaced with

彼は昨日私を訪ねた。
彼は昨日私の家を訪れた。

Please note that the purpose of 私の家を訪れた is not limited to seeing me. He just came to my house to deliver a package, or he did so as a course of patrolling.

訪れる as an intransitive verb may give you deeper understanding.

春が訪れ、桜が満開になった。= Spring has come and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

The spring season doesn’t come in order to see you.

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