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Difference between "a friend" and "an acquaintance"

Lily :)

Lily :)

Russian Federation

Hi everybody)))

You know before my today's lecture I didn't think of this question… What's the difference between friend and acquaintance in the English language? In Russian (if to translate literally) we refer "a friend" to a person that we know very well and for a long time, to whom we can trust and be sure that he/she will help us if we have some trouble. But "an acquaintance" is a person that we know, but don't have really close relationship. Before today's lecture in my University I thought that it was the same in the English language… But my teacher told us that native English speakers can call a person, with whom they for example played golf twice, a friend. So is there any difference between a friend and an acquaintance in English? Or they are synonyms?

Thanx for your answers)))

03:04 PM Sep 19 2007 |

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Mapleleaf Man


Hi Lily. You were right. An acquaintance is someone you have golfed with twice. He or she would not be a friend. A friend has your number, calls you to do spontaneous things and confides in you. You had the right idea, your teacher was not, in my opinion. 

03:41 PM Sep 19 2007 |




 I think, they have different senses but we are not careful when we use them.My literature is like Russian for this subject.I think,it is not different in the other tongues.maybe we want to feel other people near.So we can say friend for a stranger too

sorry for my english, maybe i killed english

05:52 PM Sep 19 2007 |

Lily :)

Lily :)

Russian Federation

Thanks a lot for your answers)))

 Now I'm really bewildered why my teacher said so… Oops)

Maybe yeah, as Emre botan said, we sometimes are not careful when use these words and sometimes want smb to be closer so call them a friend (in fact in Russia we do the same), but when we think it over we understand that he is just an acquaintance… Maybe it was my teacher's point – she probably meant that these two words are related to different types of relationship and every native speaker understands it, but sometimes people may (deliberately or unconsciously) mix them up! Am I right? =)

Thank you all a lot))) The opinion of native speakers is really valuable to me, because you can explain and tell smth about the spesific of your language better than any Russian teacher))

Emre botan, your words really made sense)) Thanx)) Wink


08:18 PM Sep 19 2007 |




today my teacher asks us this quistion!!!!..Laughing

thank u for explanation..


Good Luck

08:33 PM Sep 19 2007 |


United States

As a native speaker of English, I find this question very interesting in a few ways.

 Your Russian teacher was correct in the usage of the word "friend" to a native speaker.  An opposite of the word "friend" would be the word "enemy".  Certainly, our acquaintances are not in the enemy category.  So, we may consider a person that we do not yet know a potential friend.  Perhaps the golfing partner mentioned  in MapleleafMan's example will be invited to more fully involve in our life after we continue to enjoy golfing together.

In practical use of the word, I agree with the things said above.  I can't remember the last time someone introduced their acquaintance to me.  It is almost always said, "Let me intoduce you to my friend, Mary". whether I have known Mary one week or a decade.

I would like to add that all of the English I read above we easy to read and understand.  Well done!! 

12:02 AM Sep 21 2007 |




Ok, I will tell you this: I am mexican an here "friend" (amigo) is someone whom you can trust even your worst secret, and an "acquaintance" (cuate) is someone who is not as close to you as a friend. I think all people around the world without worrying about which language they speak, everybody surely recognize this kind of relationship…

  Well, well, using this in the same way, please help me a little bit more with the word "whom" ok, so I can learn it…

   Thanks for your time and ok, if you want another friend, you just add me ok: , I would like to practise my conversation with you and of course a micro…Take care and see you.

02:48 AM Sep 21 2007 |




Hi Lily! I know exactly what you mean. In Finnish "a friend" is a very strong and meaningful word to use too, so you don't really call everyone you know "a friend". On the other hand "an acquaintance" can be someone you hardly even know. I've found it hard to find some English word somewhere in the middle, but I haven't succeeded yet. I guess that it's all about cultural differences? I don't really know.. Maybe I should just change my way of thinking when I use English =D

10:24 AM Sep 22 2007 |

Lily :)

Lily :)

Russian Federation

Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about! It's definitely a cultural difference) You've read my mind) But now after all the answers I understood that the difference is not that great! In Russian a word 'friend' (if to think it over) refers to a person with whom you have a really  close relationship. But the problem is, as you said, that in Russian there's also no some word between friend and acquaintance) And because of that we use 'friend' very often . So… we say it, but not really mean it! And as I understood quite the same is in English! But the difference is that English speakers use it after even fewer time of communication with a person than we do) But the idea is the same I guess) So it's just my own conclusion… I may be wrong…

And the other thing that I understood is that it depends not only on your nationality, but also on a person)

Thanks everybody for your answers)))

11:07 AM Sep 22 2007 |



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