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In English you can say "my friend is visiting" with the object me/us implicit. In German can you say "meine Freundin besucht" omitting the object? Or must you be explicit?

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You can't, at least not as a literal translation.

Mein Freund besucht gerade

Wouldn't count as a complete sentence because besuchen has mandatory transitivity, thus needs an accusative object.

You could, however, formulate the same fact as

Mein Freund ist [auf/zu] Besuch

with the same meaning as in English.

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    ...ist zu Besuch? Apr 29, 2022 at 10:12
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    "auf Besuch" seems regional and even there much less common: mediawiki.ids-mannheim.de/VarGra/index.php/Auf_/_zu_Besuch Apr 29, 2022 at 10:25
  • In general it depends on the verb, with a good portion of transitive verbs having an optional accusative object, for example essen. Sometimes these verbs are called ambitransitive, but such a label may be misleading since there seems to be a continuum between fully transitive and fully intransitive. You can also have optional dative objects, which increases the number of possibilities.
    – RDBury
    Apr 29, 2022 at 18:59
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You may get rid of the object, but you need a different verb for that to work. Idiomatic sentences are:

Meine Freundin kommt heute. (like "arrives today") or
Meine Freundin ist gerade da. (like "is currently visiting")

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