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1: Darkhan has changed. The city's skyline rose with the construction of new structure, expanding the urban landscape. When I visited it ....

2: Darkhan has changed. The city's skyline rose with the construction of new structure, expanding the urban landscape. When I visited there ....

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  • Save yourself wondering, go with When I visited ... Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 6:40

3 Answers 3

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Both are acceptable. In my opinion, "there" is a little better because Darkhan is a place, and "there" is a pronoun specific to places, while "it" is usually used for concepts or tangible objects.

Idiomatically, I think "went" is the more common verb used in this context. In this case, "went it" is not acceptable, although "went to it" would be (but it sounds weird to me). On the other hand, "went there" is very normal. You can even omit the object entirely, "When I went, ...", as it's understood from the context.

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She visited it.
She visited there.

As others have said, both are acceptable, though it would be more common, especially in British English.

Grammatically, the pronoun it would serve as a direct object, while there, according to CGEL, is a locative preposition serving as a goal complement.

Finally, as has also been pointed out, you can also omit the dependent altogether, and just say she visited.

Discussion

Acceptability

Here are some examples of both, from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA):

Krajnyak, 48, was originally from Hungary and had just visited there, according to her Facebook page and a neighbor.
"This place is like a series of living Post covers—and I'm in it," he told a young man who also visited there.
… including immediate access to the bin Laden compound and to three of bin Laden's wives and other individuals who were known to have lived or visited there.
Marcus Stephen is the president of Nauru, a coral blip in the midst of the vast Pacific with a population of less than 14,000 and with only 21 square kilometers of real estate. It is the smallest independent republic in the world. "There are not many countries you can bicycle around before breakfast," wrote the BBC correspondent Nick Squires, who visited there earlier this year.
Having lived in Detroit for a period in our lives, we visited there frequently and found Habatat.

There is a life-sized recreation of a saloon after Carrie Nation visited it with her signature axe.
Cristina West, who primarily works at the fudge counter in the same shop, was first "blown away" by the convenience store when she visited it on her honeymoon.
However, ISPs do know that you visited that website, when you visited it, how long you stayed there, and how much data went back and forth.
Playwright Tennessee Williams also had a house in Key West. Ornithologist James Audubon has a house named after him, although he never visited it.
Enchanted by the campus when he visited it as a commencement speaker in the early 1900s, Nutting invited Berea carpentry instructors to his factory in Framingham, Massachusetts, to learn furniture-making skills.

And here are some examples of visited without any dependents.

Black Hawk College was in Moline, Illinois, and Hillary had never visited.
She would jump all over just about anyone who visited.
Stephens is Nassar's only known nonmedical victim, who he assaulted in the basement of his home on weekends while their families visited.
Its release would belie Saudi claims that no such delegation visited.
The black shades in the dining room were all closed during the evening we visited.

Distribution

In COCA, visited it has 151 hits, while visited there has 105. Meanwhile, in the British National Corpus (BNC), visited it has 46 hits, whereas visited there has only 6. Similar patterns emerge when one looks at google NGrams (first restricted to American English and then to British English), confirming that 1. they are both acceptable in both dialects; 2. visited it is more common than visited there in both dialects; but 3. the preference for visited it is stronger in British English than in American English.

Grammar

It is uncontroversially a pronoun, and serves as a direct object of visited.

The status of there is more controversial, in the sense that the CGEL's analysis differs from that of traditional grammar. I will present CGEL's analysis.

According to CGEL, the there in …visited there is a 'locative' there, and is an intransitive preposition. Here 'intransitive' means that, unlike prototypical prepositions, it has no object, no complement (CGEL, p. 272).

The locative there is not to be confused with the 'dummy' there, which, although historically derived from the locative there, is nowadays a pronoun. For example, in the sentence There is nothing there, the first there is the dummy there, and the second there is the locative there (CGEL, p. 1391).

The grammatical function of the locative there is that of a goal complement.

Discussion

The way to see that there in visited there is a complement (rather than a modifier) is that it is licensed by the verb. For example, while it is acceptable to say she visited/sat/wrote there, it is not acceptable to say *she heard there or *she said there.

As far as why, according to CGEL, the locative there is a proposition, this is a longer story, which I can only briefly sketch.

Why the locative there is a preposition

CGEL's argument proceeds in two steps. First, they argue that a certain group of words that can take an optional dependent are prepositions both in sentences in which they do take a dependent and in sentences in which they do not. Second, they argue that a second group of words (and there belongs to this second group) is syntactically just like the first group, except that members of this second group can't take dependents. The conclusion is that the members of this second group (there included) should also be classified as prepositions.

So, let's start with the first step.

Let's look at the following pair of sentences:

The owner is not in the house
The owner is not in.

The traditional grammar would say that the first in is a preposition, while the second is an adverb. CGEL argues that we should say that both instances of in are prepositions, for several reasons.

(i) There is no principled basis for insisting that prepositions can't appear without a complement. We don't impose such restrictions for verbs (she was eating an apple vs she was eating), nouns (she's the director of the company vs. she's the director), or adjectives (I'm certain it's genuine vs I'm certain). Now look at, for instance, I haven't seen her since the war vs. I haven't seen her since. What principled reason could there be for saying that while the first since is a preposition, the second couldn't be, because it has no dependents?

(ii) Regardless of whether the NP complement is present or not, the same modifiers are permitted. Examples: two hours in he'd left [two hours before the end] vs. he'd left [two hours before]; straight in she went [straight inside the house] vs she went [straight inside].

(iii) These patterns are not merely found only with marginal items, or just occasionally with one or two prepositions. Rather, they are found systematically, with some of the most typical prepositions: aboard, about, above, across, after, against, along, alongside, apropos, around, before, behind, below, beneath, besides, between, beyond, by, down, for, in, inside, near, notwithstanding, off, on, opposite, outside, over, past, round, since, through, throughout, to, under, underneath, up, within, and without.

Therefore, CGEL concludes, all these words should be taken as prepositions regardless of whether they appear with a complement or not (CGEL, pp. 612­­–613).

Now comes the second step in CGEL's argument.

Consider words in the following category, which includes the locative there. These are spatial terms that take no complements: abroad, abreast, adrift, aground, ahead, aloft, apart, ashore, aside, away, here, there, where, hence, thence, whence, east, north, south, west, aft, back, forth, home, together, downhill, downstage, downstairs, downstream, downwind, and some others.

Syntactically, these words are very similar to the prepositions from the first list (aboard, about, …) except that they don't take complements. For example, compare they went/are aboard and they went/are ashore. Some of these can be modified by right and straight, e.g. they are right downstairs or we went straight indoors. CGEL concludes, 'We accordingly include these too in the preposition class' (CGEL, pp. 613­­–615).

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    Also interesting (and relevant to the one example): you can "live there" but you can't "live it" (not if "it" is a place at least).
    – Laurel
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 23:05
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Visit it

Visit is most commonly a transitive verb, meaning it expects an object. In option #1, the object is "it", Darkhan.

In option #2, "there" is being treated as an object, but "there" is traditionally an adverb and cannot be an object.

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    "Visit" can also be used as an intransitive verb, so in fact "visit there" is perfectly fine.
    – alphabet
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 5:18
  • 1
    Merriam-Webster lists "there" as also a pronoun and noun as in "Hi there" or "Take it from there". It certainly doesn't seem odd to have it follow a verb like "look there", "go there", "sit there", etc. Although there are problems classifying parts of speech in such expressions: see also the questions about "go home".
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 11:25
  • @alphabet Agreed, but why would someone pick one over the other here?
    – Doubter
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 21:00
  • I would pick "there" because it's specific to places, while "it" is usually used for things.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 22:18
  • @Barmar The answer is bad, but I would prefer “it”, because “visit there” seems unnatural to me. But it may be British/US usage, like “visit with”.
    – David
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 22:55

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