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The Right Way To Say Friend in French

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A friend in need is a friend indeed! The French also have an equivalent expression they’re fond of – “c’est dans le besoin que l’on reconnaît ses vrais amis”. Friendship is one of the most important aspects of life so it’s no surprise that this adage exists in many cultures and languages. Let’s take a look at how to say “friend” in French and explore the different options we have for interacting with and referring to our friends. 

How to Say Friend in French at a Glance

Friend in French

Ami / Amie
Copain / Copine
Pote

Common words for friends

Ami(e)

Ami(e) simply means “friend” in French. Add an “e” and it becomes the female “amie”, add an “s” to either form and it becomes the plural “ami” for male friends or “amies” for female friends. It’s used to describe a close friend. Sometimes you will hear the terms “petit ami” or “petite amie”. This doesn’t refer to someone’s little friend (”petit” means little) but actually refers to a steady boy- or girlfriend. Let’s look at examples for both:

Mon ami Julien m’a offert des fleurs.

Ma petite amie vit à Paris.

My friend Julien gave me flowers.

My girlfriend lives in Paris.

Read next: 300+ Indispensable French Words — With Examples

Copain, copine

Copain (male) and copine (female) both mean friend and are used interchangeably with “ami(e)”. To form the plural you add an “s” to both forms and it becomes “copains” and “copines”. “Copain” and “copine” describe a friendly relationship slightly less close than “ami(e)”. Adding “petit(e)” also makes it a boy- or girlfriend. Sometimes “copain/copine” can also refer to a romantic partner without “petit(e)” in front of it. In a conversation, pay close attention to the context to discover the relationship between two people.

Sa copine Magalie lui rend visite.

Mon petit copain est medecin.

His friend Magalie visits him.

My boyfriend is a doctor.

Pote

Pote is a very informal word to describe a male or female friend. It is often used in its plural form “potes” to refer to a group of close friends.

Je vais voir mes potes.

I’ll go to see my friends.

Common expressions for referring to friends

Good friend(s) – bon ami/ bonne amie, bon copain/bonne copine. bons potes

Best friend(s) – meilleur ami, meilleure amie, meilleur copain, meilleure copine, meilleurs potes

A friend of mine – un ami (une amie) a moi, un copain (une copine) a moi, des potes a moi

Read next: How to Say Beautiful in French Flawlessly – 6 Elegant Ways

How To Use Mon Ami (And How Not To)

You might know the term “mon ami” from pop culture. It is often used in movies as a friendly greeting such as – “Bonjour, mon ami!” which is meant to convey “Hello, my friend!”.

This particular use of “mon ami”  is actually not common at all in France and will immediately give you away as a tourist. It’s something that was likely taught in the French class from the Simpsons but the expression is not actually used this way.

Instead, a better way of addressing someone you’re greeting is simply by using their name.

How to address your friends in French

Correct

  • Bonjour Luc! – Hello Luc!

Incorrect

  • Bonjour, mon ami! – Hello, my friend!

“Mon ami” is used however if you talk about a friend of yours, introduce or describe them. 

Bonjour à tous, c’est Luc, mon ami.

Hello everybody, this is Luc, my friend.

Conclusion

From “ami” over “copain” to “pote”, we hope you enjoy and practice your newly acquired French skills with your friends. Pay close attention to the distinction between “ami ” or “petit ami” or you might accidentally refer to someone as your romantic partner and commit a “faux-pas”.

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