My very best friend: talking about friendship

Sam Edwards / Caiaimage / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

July 30th is the United Nations’ International Day of Friendship, so this post is all about words and phrases for talking about friends and friendship.

A friend can be anyone you like and spend time with, so we use adjectives to say how much we like or love someone. A good friend or a close friend is someone you spend a lot of time with and care very much about, and your best friend is the person you love most of all:

I’d like you to meet my good friend Mateo.

He doesn’t have many close friends.

Sarah is my very best friend.

Now, let’s look at some informal words that mean ‘friend’. Mate (UK) is a word used more by and about male friends, while chum and pal are old-fashioned or slightly humorous. The word buddy is often used for a friend that you do a specific type of activity with. Although buddy when used alone usually means a male, if you specify the kind of buddy it is, it can be a male or female:

He went out for a meal with his mates/pals.

Rory is one of his college chums.

Maria is my gym buddy.

The word crony is very negative, and implies that people help one another in a dishonest way:

He gives all the best jobs to his cronies.

We often use the word circle to talk about groups of friends. For instance, if someone has a large circle of friends, they have a lot of friends. A person’s social circle is the friends they have or the type of people they are friends with:

Martina has a large circle of friends.

Reece wasn’t part of her social circle.

If you say that two people move in different circles, you mean that they do not have the same friends, often because they come from a different social class:

Sofia’s mother is a diplomat, so she moves in very different circles from me.

People who like each other because they have very similar views are sometimes called kindred spirits, while we might describe two people who are such good friends that they spend a lot of time together as inseparable:

When she started talking about cooking, he knew he had found a kindred spirit.

The boys met when they were seven and have been inseparable ever since.

There are some nice idioms connected with friendship. For example, birds of a feather flock together means that people usually like to spend time with other people who are similar to them.

Kyle’s friends seem as geeky as him. Birds of a feather flock together, I guess.

If two people meet and quickly start to enjoy talking and being together, we say they get on like a house on fire:

I was worried about introducing Mia to my mum, but they got on like a house on fire.

Let’s end with some words and phrases to describe why our friends are so important. Good friends usually share our values (have similar views about what is important in life) and are good listeners (listen carefully to what we say). They respect us (treat us with kindness and care), and they are there for us (support us) when we have problems.

And finally, ahead of the International Day of Friendship, I’d like to extend my best wishes to all our online friends who read these posts!

21 thoughts on “My very best friend: talking about friendship

  1. Dori Barreiros

    Dear Liz,

    can you tell me when to use the word girlfriend/boyfriend to mean friendship and when they mean that you are engaged in a romance? Thanks

    1. Liz Walter

      Ah, that’s quite tricky. It’s not very common to use ‘boyfriend’ in any sense other than the romantic one, but ‘girllfriend’ can be used both ways. If it’s not clear from the context, we might add something like ‘I mean her friends that are girls’.

  2. Eric from rwanda

    Good post Liz it boggle mind, i dig it
    I Always tend look at this online dictionary its really head and shoulder above other you find every word you want easily anyway Liz mind if i ask you question how can found all blog of year pass

  3. Sandra Fleitas

    Hi, Liz! In spanish we say : ” Quien encuentra un amigo, encuentra un tesoro” . It means : “If you find a friend, you find a treasure “.
    Thanks !

    1. I love that proverb.

      I also heard and learnt something very similar in Italian in 1997 when I was reading the Encarta encyclopaedia.

      “Who finds a friend finds a treasure” – “Chi trova un amico trova un tesoro”

      was also a 1981 movie, which I think you might like to watch, Sandra, if you haven’t done already.

  4. Jagadabhi Priyanka

    It is really very helpful.could you please post topics which help in speaking english.i would be very thankful to you.i really interested in following this blog

    1. Liz Walter

      I don’t think there’s a special name for it, unless there’s a technical one I don’t know. The red-hot remains of a fire are called embers.

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