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Discuss Friends, Acquaintances, and Neighbors in German

You may find yourself describing people you know as your friends, even if you aren’t in close contact with them. In the German-speaking world, people have more distinct boundaries between those they consider as Freunde (froyn-de) (friends) and those they describe as Bekannte (bê-kân-te) (acquaintances).

For many Germans, Freunde are part of a smaller, tighter knit circle than those you may include in your group of friends. Aside from family and friends, other people you may know are Nachbarn (nâH-bârn) (neighbors) or Arbeitskollegen (âr-bayts-koh-ley-gen) (coworkers).

Here are some example sentences you may use to describe your friends, acquaintances, and neighbors:

  • Ich habe einen sehr guten Freund, der in New York lebt. (iH hah-be ayn-en zeyr gooh-ten froynd, dêr in new york [as in English] lêpt.) (I have a very good [male] friend who lives in New York.)

  • Ich habe eine sehr gute Freundin, die in New York lebt. (iH hah-be ayn-e zeyr gooh-te froyn-din, dee in new york [as in English] lêpt.) (I have a very good [female] friend who lives in New York.)

  • Er ist ein Bekannter von mir. (êr ist ayn bê-kân-ter fon meer.) (He’s an acquaintance of mine.)

  • Sie ist eine Bekannte von mir. (zee ist ayn-e bê-kân-te fon meer.) (She’s an acquaintance of mine.)

  • Ich kenne meine Nachbarn nicht sehr gut. (iH kên-e mayn-e nahH-bârn niHt zeyr gooht.) (I don’t know my neighbors very well.)

Note: In the previous example sentences, the German nouns for friend and acquaintance have different spellings, depending on whether you’re talking about a male or a female. Some German nouns have this type of spelling change.

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