How to Say Friend in Chinese: 45 Ways for Every Situation

friend in Chinese

You probably already know that “friend” in Chinese is 朋友 (péngyou), right? But there is a whole world outside of just 朋友 (péngyou) for describing friends in Chinese. People in China use a bunch of ways to say good friends, close friends, best friends, buddies, pals, and so on. These words depend on how close the relationship is and with whom they are speaking. 

In this article, we’ll show you 45 ways of saying “friend” in Mandarin Chinese from BFF to life partners and dive deeper into the different situations in which you use each one of them.

The Basic Way to Say Friend in Chinese

The basic and most common way of saying “friend” in Mandarin Chinese is 朋友 (péngyou).

It’s a typical compound word in Chinese. If you break the word into characters, 朋 (gōng) stands for “companion”, and 友 (zuò) means “friend” (which by itself is rarely used in daily conversations). Together, they express the idea of “friend”.

  • 我们是朋友
    Wǒmen shì péngyou.
    We are friends.

You can use 朋友 (péngyou) to refer to either one friend or many. For instance,

  • 一个朋友 (yí gè péngyou) – a/one friend
  • 五个朋友 (wǔ gè péngyou) – five friends

In many cases, the plural number of 朋友 (péngyou) is implicit. But you can add the plural number marker 们 (men) to the end to make it clear that you talking about many friends, like this:

  • 朋友们再见!
    Péngyoumen zàijiàn!
    Goodbye friends!

Note that 们 (men) is not to be used when there are already words indicating plurality. For instance, it’d be wrong to say 五个朋友们 (wǔ gè péngyoumen) for “five friends”. (More on basic Chinese grammar rules)

朋友 (péngyou) can be used to talk about non-human things that are your friends as well. For instance,

  • 我和邻居的成了朋友
    Wǒ hé línjū de gǒu chéng le péngyou.
    I became friends with my neighbor’s dog.

It’s a good idea to add 朋友 (péngyou) to your basic Chinese vocabulary, as it’s the building block of many other friendship-related words and phrases in Chinese.  

Here are a few examples.

My friend – 我的朋友 (wǒ de péngyou)

Saying “my friend” in Chinese is straightforward. Simply add the possessive pronoun 我的 (wǒ de) – meaning “my” to the word 朋友 (péngyou) and there you have it.  

Be aware that, it’s uncommon in China to use the phrase as a friendly greeting such as “你好,我的朋友!(Nǐhǎo, wǒ de péngyou)” which is meant to convey “ Hello, my friend!”.

我的朋友 (wǒ de péngyou) is typically used when you talk about a friend of yours, introduce or describe them to other people. For example,

  • 我的朋友托马斯明天会过来。
    Wǒ de péngyou Tuōmǎsī míngtiān huì guòlái.
    My friend Thomas is coming over tomorrow.

In daily Chinese conversations, You might often hear the shortened version “我朋友 (wǒ péngyou)” instead of “我的朋友 (wǒ de péngyou)”. (The possessive particle 的 [de] can be dropped when a close personal relationship is involved.)

  • 我现在去我朋友家。
    Wǒ xiànzài qù wǒ péngyǒu jiā.
    I am going over to my friend’s place now.

A friend of mine – 我的一个朋友 (wǒ de yí gè péngyou)

我的朋友 (wǒ de péngyou) usually just means “my friend”. But in a romantic context, the expression can also refer to a boyfriend/girlfriend or partner.

There are a couple of ways to introduce your platonic friend to others in Chinese, without there being any awkward misunderstandings. The most foolproof way is to say 我的一个朋友 (wǒ de yí gè péngyou), which translates to “a friend of mine”. For example,

  • 我的一个朋友带我来过这家餐厅。
    Wǒ de yí gè péngyou dài wǒ lái guò zhè jiā cāntīng.
    A friend of mine has brought me to this restaurant before.

Good friend – 好朋友 (hǎo péngyou)

You probably already know that “good” in Chinese is 好 (hǎo). So to say “good friend” in Chinese, simply say 好朋友 (hǎo péngyou).

Example:

  • Nǐ zhēn shì wǒ de hǎo péngyou.
    你真是我的好朋友
    You’re such a good friend.

BTW,  好 (hǎo) means much more than just “good”. Read this article to learn 11 different ways of using 好 (hǎo) in Chinese.

Best friend – 最好的朋友 (zuìhǎo de péngyou)

There are a bunch of ways to refer to your best friend or close friend in Chinese, depending on the situation (more on that later), and we’ll start with 最好的朋友 (zuìhǎo de péngyou), the direct translation of “best friend”, which is the one you’ll probably see in a Mandarin textbook.

Example:

  • 阿强曾是我最好的朋友
    Ā  Qiáng céng shì wǒ zuìhǎo de péngyou.
    A Qiang used to be my best friend.
  • 书是一个人最好的朋友
    Shū shì yí gè rén zuìhǎo de péngyǒu.
    Books are a man’s best friend.

You can add another 最 (zuì) to the beginning of 最好 (zuìhǎo) to refer to a very best friend.

  • 最最好的朋友要结婚了。
    zuìzuìhǎo de péngyou yào jiéhūn le.
    My very best friend is getting married.

Old friend – 老朋友 (lǎo péngyou)

For those you have known well for years, you can refer to them as 老朋友 (lǎo péngyou) in Chinese.

  • 别客气,我们是老朋友了。
    Bié kèqì, wǒmen shì lǎo péngyou le.
    Don’t stand on ceremony. We’ve been friends for ages.

In formal written Chinese, 老朋友 (lǎo péngyou) is often abbreviated as 老友 (lǎo yǒu), hence the Chinese name of the classic American sitcom Friends – 老友记 (lǎo yǒu jì), which translates to “Old Friends Chronicles”, literally.

friends in Chinese

Boyfriend – 男朋友 (nánpéngyou)

The word for boyfriend in Chinese is 男朋友 (nánpéngyou). You can also shorten it to 男友 (nányǒu) for the same effect.

  • 对不起,我已经有男朋友了。
    Duìbùqǐ, wǒ yǐjīng yǒu nánpéngyou le.
    Sorry, I already have a boyfriend.
  • 昨天我在街上看到了我前男友
    Zuótiān wǒ zài jiē shàng kàn dào le wǒ qián nányǒu.
    I saw my ex-boyfriend on the street yesterday.

Girlfriend – 女朋友 (nǚpéngyou)

Similarly, to say girlfriend in Chinese, you can say either 女朋友  (nǚpéngyou) or 女友 (nǚyǒu).  

  • 你的女朋友人呢?
    Nǐ de nǚpéngyou rén ne?
    Where is your girlfriend?
  • 我刚和我女友吵过架。
    Wǒ gāng hé wǒ nǚyǒu chǎo guò jià.
    I just had a fight with my girlfriend.

Male friend – 男性朋友 (nánxìng péngyou)

If you are already familiar with basic Chinese, you’ll know the word 男 (nán) means “male”. But if “male friend” is the literal meaning of 男朋友 (nánpéngyou) in Chinese, how do you actually describe a friend who happens to be a guy?

Well, to say male friend in Chinese, you say 男性朋友 (nánxìng péngyou). 性 (xìng) means “gender”, so the phrase translates to “male gender friend”.

Example:

  • 我有很多男性朋友
    Wǒ yǒu hěn duō nánxìng péngyǒu.
    I have many male friends.

Female friend – 女性朋友 (nǚxìng péngyǒu)

You’ve probably guessed it, female friend in Chinese is 女性朋友 (nǚxìng péngyǒu), literally “female gender friend”. Don’t confuse it with 女朋友  (nǚpéngyou)!

Example:

  • 在你女朋友面前谈你的女性朋友
    Bié zài nǐ nǚpéngyou miànqián tán nǐ de nǚxìng péngyou.
    Don’t talk about your female friends in front of your girlfriend.

Kid – 小朋友 (xiǎopéngyou)

The word for kids in Chinese is 孩子 (háizi), but they are also commonly referred to as 小朋友 (xiǎopéngyou), meaning “little friend”. 

  • 公园里有很多小朋友
    Gōngyuán lǐ yǒu hěnduō xiǎopéngyou.
    There are many kids in the park.

You can refer directly to a kid (or kids) with 小朋友 (xiǎopéngyou). For instance,

  • 小朋友,你今年几岁了?
    Xiǎopéngyou, nǐ jīnnián jǐ suì le?
    Kid, how old are you?

The Formal Way to Say Friend in Chinese  

A more formal way to say friend in Chinese is 友人 (yǒurén). If you’ve learned the HSK level 1 characters, you will recognize the second character 人 (yǒurén) which means person. Translated, 友人 (yǒurén) means friend/friendly person. So this word can only be used to refer to human friends.

友人 (yǒurén) is a very formal word because it sounds polite (probably too much). This means people rarely use it in daily conversations. You’re more likely to run across this word in written items like stories, news articles, slogans, or speeches. For instance.

Basically, “foreign friend” is a nicer way of saying “foreigner” in Chinese.

Other Common Words for Friend in Chinese

Now that we’ve explained both the basic way and the formal way of saying “friend” in Chinese, we’ll guide you through some other words Chinese people commonly use to describe friends and acquaintances.

You’ll notice that the range of words referencing relationship and friendship outnumber those in English. Be careful to note the context behind a word before using it.

兄弟 (xiōngdì) – brother, friend

You will hear this word a lot when you are in China. 兄弟 (xiōngdì) in Chinese means brother, but it is also a way of referring to a close friend and can be like a term of endearment. It’s used in an informal context and generally among boys and men.

Example:

  • 干杯,兄弟
    Gān bēi, xiōngdì!
    Cheers, brothers!

哥们儿 (gē menr) – friend, bro, dude

bro in Chinese

A similar but slangier expression to describe a close male friend would be 哥们儿 (gē menr). It comes from the Beijing dialect and has the same nuance as 兄弟 (xiōngdì). However, the word is not used to refer to your biological brothers.

You can make this word even stronger by saying 铁哥们儿 (tiě gē menr) – very good friend or ”ironclad bro”.  

Example:

  • 我来介绍一下,这是我的铁哥们儿李健。
    Wǒ lái jièshào yíxià, zhè shì wǒ de tiě gē menr Lǐ Jiàn.
    Let me do a quick introduction. This is my best friend Li Jian.

Though 哥们儿 (gē menr) refers only to guys, it’s becoming increasingly common for girls to refer to a close 男性朋友 (nánxìng péngyou) – male friend as their 哥们儿 (gē menr).

Additionally, 哥们儿 (gē menr) can be a slang term to address a male stranger in a similar way you would use bro or dude in English. You will know through the context of the conversation whether the person is referring to a friend or an actual stranger.  

  • 哥们儿,你叫什么名字?
    Gē menr, nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?
    What’s your name, bro?
  • 哥们儿,我不在这儿工作。
    Gē menr, wǒ bú zài zhèr gōngzuò.
    Dude, I don’t work here.

As with most slang words, you’ll want to be careful how you use it and probably avoid it unless you’re certain you’re using it in the right context – not everyone likes it.

姐妹 (jiěmèi) – sister, friend

As with “brothers” is often used by close guy friends to call each other in Chinese, it’s common to hear women refer to a female friend as their 姐妹 (jiěmèi) – “sister“.

Example:

  • 我的姐妹都觉得我男朋友丑。
    Wǒ de jiěmèi dōu juéde wǒ nánpéngyou chǒu.
    All of my girl friends think my boyfriend is ugly.

闺蜜 (guīmì) – (a woman’s) bosom friend

One of those trendy words that pop up everywhere on Chinese social media, 闺蜜 (guīmì) is how many girls in China refer to their best female friends these days.

The word 闺蜜 (guīmì), which basically works like the female version of 哥们儿 (gē menr), is divided into two characters: 闺 (guī), which is short for 闺房 (guīfáng) – “the private room where unmarried girls live”, and 蜜 (mì) – “honey”, which is also a homophone for the character 蜜 (mì), meaning “close”.

闺蜜 (guīmì) is the kind of friends a girl can talk to about her feelings or discuss love, marriage, and men. They always got your back and share everything with you.

Example:

  • 我的闺蜜告诉我她打算和男朋友分手。
    Wǒ de guīmì gàosù wǒ tā dǎsuàn hé nánpéngyou fēnshǒu.
    My girl friend told me she was planning on breaking up with his boyfriend.

闺蜜 (guīmì) is feminine, so it’s usually a friendship between girls. But you can also use the word on your best male friend as a joke or an endearing tease by adding 男 (nán), meaning “man” to it – 男闺蜜 (nán guīmì).

死党 (sǐdǎng) – best friend, BFF

best friend in Chinese

死党 (sǐdǎng) refers to a very best friend or group. The literal translation of the word is death gang or death party, meaning you are so close that you could die for each other.

  • 我以为你是我的死党,你却出卖了我。
    Wǒ yǐwéi nǐ shì wǒ de sǐdǎng, nǐ què chūmài le wǒ.
    I thought you were my best friend, but you betrayed me.

基友 (jī yǒu) – good buddy (very informal slang)

基友 (jī yǒu) is another internet buzzword that you would probably never find in a Mandarin textbook.   

Originally meaning “gay friend” (cuz the character 基 sounds a lot like “gay” in Cantonese), 基友 (jī yǒu) has now become a popular Chinese word that’s used jokingly for heterosexual friends who often hang out together, regardless of gender. So a 基友 (jī yǒu) is in fact always straight.

Example:

  • 我和好基友打了一整天游戏。
    Wǒ hé hǎo jī yǒu dǎ le yì zhěng tiān yóuxì.
    I played video games with my good buddy all day.

The slang is used mostly by young people and is considered very informal speech. As such, it should be used with care.

小伙伴 (xiǎo huǒbàn) – buddy

If you are not sure about using 基友 (jī yǒu), then a common, conversational word for “buddy” you can use safely in Chinese would be 小伙伴 (xiǎo huǒbàn), literally “little (young) buddy”. You can use it with people in your inner circle who are right on level with you, either in rank or in age (not too old though, sorry!).

Just remember that it works best when talking about someone in the third person – not directly with the person you’re describing as a buddy.

Example:

  • 我的小伙伴们为我办了一个惊喜派对。
    Wǒ de xiǎo huǒbànmen wèi wǒ bàn le yí gè jīngxǐ pàiduì.
    My buddies threw me a surprise party.

知己 (zhījǐ) – confidant(e)

Literally “know self” or “know me”, 知己 (zhījǐ) goes beyond just having fun together and surface-level conversations. Instead, it’s a friend you connect on a deeper soul level, someone you can confide in and trust with your private thoughts, and who you’re sure can keep a secret. If you’re lucky to have a couple of these friends, you can describe them with the fixed expression 三五知己 (sānwǔ zhījǐ) in Chinese.

Example:

  • 老人们都喜欢约上三五知己,在茶馆聊天喝茶。
    Lǎorén dōu xǐhuan yuē shàng sānwǔ zhījǐ, zài cháguǎn liáotiān hēchá.
    Old people like to meet up with trusted friends in tea houses to chat and drink tea.  

知己 (zhījǐ) may be applied to either gender. If you are a woman and your trusted friend is male, you can also call him your 蓝颜知己 (lányán zhījǐ). And if you are a man and your trusted one is female, you can call her 红颜知己 (hóngyán zhījǐ).

发小 (fàxiǎo) – childhood friend

childhood friend in Chinese

发小 (fàxiǎo) is a childhood friend you grew up with and it has an air of nostalgia about it. Most likely, your families knew each other too.

Like 哥们儿 (gē menr), 发小 (fàxiǎo) was originally used by Beijingers, who pronounce it as 发小儿 (fàxiǎo’r). Though the word is still more common in the north – you can hear it pretty much anywhere in China these days.

Example:

  • 他们俩是发小,从幼儿园起就认识了。
    Tāmen liǎ shì fàxiǎo, cóng yòuéryuán qǐ jiù rènshi le.
    The two of them are childhood friends and had known each other since kindergarten.

忘年交  (wàngniánjiāo) – significantly older or younger friend

Age-gap friendships can be a precious thing. Are you good friends with anyone much older or younger than you? Well, you can call them 忘年交  (wàngniánjiāo) in Chinese.

Example:

  • 老教授和他的学生成了忘年交
    Lǎo jiàoshòu hé tā de xuéshēng chéng le wàngniánjiāo.
    The elderly professor and his student(s) became friends despite their age difference.

伙计 (huǒji) – pal, mate (in movies)

伙计 (huǒji) is not really a common word for friend in Chinese, but it is used by some people in northern China for an acquaintance with whom they don’t have much of a relationship (only among men).

Otherwise, 伙计 (huǒji) can sound like “translated Chinese”. Basically, you only get to hear this expression in western movies that are dubbed into Chinese where the original line is “Hey pal!” or something along those lines. (Chinese people don’t use these expressions like we do in English)

老铁 (lǎo tiě) – buddy, bro (very informal slang – outdated)

While a dated phrase, you may run across 老铁 (lǎotiě) in older Chinese memes or comedies.

The slang, which originally came from a northeastern Chinese dialect, literally means “old iron”. It was kind of popular around 2016 and was a jokey way to address a 铁哥们儿 (tiě gē menr) – “ironclad friend”. These days, it probably shouldn’t be used at all unless you want to make people laugh.

Specific Kinds of Friends in Chinese

Some words for ”friend” in Chinese can only be used in certain situations or professional relationships. Here are some situation-specific ways to say friend.

同伴 (tóngbàn) – companion (through a shared activity)

同伴 (tóngbàn) refers to the relationship between people who do an activity together whether it’s a job task, an event, a trip, etc, but it doesn’t reveal any details about the closeness of the friendship. 

For example, your 同伴 (tóngbàn) could be a person you take to a party, a road buddy to share a car with for saving money or other pilgrims you fell in with while walking the Camino de Santiago… Are you friends? We’ll never know!

  • 如果你想省交通费, 可以在网上找同伴一起旅行。
    Rúguǒ nǐ xiǎng shěng jiāotōng fèi, kěyǐ zài wǎng shàng zhǎo tóngbàn yìqǐ lǚxíng.  
    If you want to cut down on transportation costs, look for companions to travel with on the internet.

伴侣 (bànlǚ) – (life) partner

partner in Chinese

When you are in a serious, long-term relationship with someone, you can refer to him or her as 伴侣 (bànlǚ) – partner. It can be used between boyfriends and girlfriends as well as husbands and wives.

  • 王先生,您的伴侣正在找您。
    Wáng xiānsheng, nín de bànlǚ zhèng zài zhǎo nín.
    Mr. Wang, your wife/partner is looking for you.

Note that 伴侣 (bànlǚ) is only used for romantic partners in Chinese. A business partner, on the other hand, is called 合伙人 (héhuǒ rén).

亲友 (qīnyǒu) – relatives and friends

In Chinese, the word 亲友 (qīnyǒu), which is essentially the short form of 亲戚朋友 (qīnqi péngyou) is reserved for relatives and close friends. These are the people you would typically invite to your wedding.

  • 我的亲友都很支持我的决定。
    Wǒ de qīnyǒu dōu hěn zhīchí wǒ de juédìng.
    All of my relatives and friends are very supportive of my decision.

室友 (shìyǒu) – roommate

室友 (shìyǒu) means roommate in Chinese. Though the second character in the word – 友 (yǒu) stands for “friend”, a 室友 (shìyǒu) doesn’t necessarily have to be your friend. 友 (yǒu) only implies a similarity between you and that person here.

For instance,

  • 我的室友真的很烦人。
    Wǒ de shìyǒu zhēn de hěn fánrén.
    My roommate is really annoying.

队友 (duìyǒu) – teammate

You’ll notice that many noun + 友 (yǒu) combinations in Chinese are used to describe people who share the same group or circumstances that you do.

队友 (duìyǒu) is a prime example. It refers to someone who is on the same team as you are, be it basketball, football, chess or whatever team you’re playing for.

  • 我在等我的队友
    Wǒ zài děng wǒ de duìyǒu.
    I am waiting for my teammate.

校友 (xiàoyǒu) – fellow alum

The same applies to 校友 (xiàoyǒu). Literally “school friend”, the word is used to describe someone who went to the same school as you, even during a different year.

  • 你知道马云吗?他是我的校友
    Nǐ zhīdào Mǎ Yún ma? Tā shì wǒ de xiàoyǒu.
    Do you know of Jack Ma? He is my fellow alum.

同学 (tóngxué) classmate, schoolmate

If you’re still going to school, then you can call a classmate or schoolmate 同学 (tóngxué). The character 同 (tóng) means “same” or “together”, and 学 (xué) means “study”. Unlike 校友 (xiàoyǒu), 同学 (tóngxué) is most often used to refer to a friend who is in the same grade as you.

  • 我的朋友大多是我的同学
    Wǒ de péngyou dàduō shì wǒ de tóngxué.
    Most of my friends are my schoolmates.

If you have taken some Chinese classes, you may have noticed that your teachers address students as 同学们 (tóngxuémen) with the plural number marker 们 (men).

  • 同学们,我们现在开始上课。
    Tóngxuémen, wǒmen xiànzài kāishǐ shàngkè.
    Class, we are starting class now.

同事 (tóngshì) – colleague, associate

If you are friends with a work colleague or associate, 同事 (tóngshì) would be a suitable word to use for expressing this type of friendship. The character 事 (shì) means “job” in Chinese and is used in many other terms. Note you wouldn’t be able to use the word for a friend in a different workplace or organization than yourself.

Example:

  • 昨天我和同事在酒吧喝了不少酒。
    Zuótiān wǒ hé tóngshì zài jiǔbā hē le bùshǎo jiǔ.
    I drank quite a lot with my colleagues at the bar yesterday.

网友 (wǎngyǒu) – online friend

online friend in Chinese

If you ask me, “are online friends real?”, I would say yes. It doesn’t matter if they live across the globe and you may never meet them in person, it’s the emotional connection that counts.

When expressing this type of friendship, you can use the word 网友 (wǎngyǒu), literally “internet friend”. To make online friends from China, you can try popular Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, QQ, Weibo, Douban, Zhihu, etc.

  • 你有没有见过网友
    Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu jiànguò wǎngyǒu?
    Have you met up with any online friends?

笔友 (bǐ yǒu) – pen pal

The internet has changed how many people communicate with their virtual friends. But there’s no dearth of people who still love to write and exchange handwritten letters. 

If you still have pen pals, you can call them your 笔友 (bǐ yǒu).

  • 我给笔友写信二十多年了。
    Wǒ gěi bǐyǒu xiě xìn èrshí duō nián le.
    I’ve been writing to pen pals for over 20 years.

酒友 (jiǔ yǒu) – drinking buddy

When referring to a partner in a common activity, you might choose to use the name of the activity (usually the short form) with 友 (yǒu) when describing the relationship. For instance, a friend with whom you often go to bars can be 酒友 (jiǔ yǒu) – drinking buddy (literally “alcohol buddy”).

The friendship is usually linked to a similar interest in something – well, not necessarily friendship – 友 (yǒu) is more similar to “buddy” or “fellow” in this case.

Here are a few more examples:

  • 球友 (qiú yǒu) – ball sports buddy (football, basketball, tennis, etc)
  • 牌友 (pái yǒu) – card games buddy (poker, rummy, uno, etc)
  • 棋友 (qí yǒu) – board games buddy (chess, go, xiangqi, etc)
  • 驴友 (lǘ yǒu) – travel buddy

Note that travel buddy in Chinese is written as 驴友 (lǘ yǒu) – literally “donkey friend” instead of 旅友 (lǚ yǒu) on purpose for its amusing effect (travelers who enjoy adventures, backpacking, hiking, etc are proud to be compared to donkeys since these animals are capable of carrying heavy loads on their backs)

病友 (bìngyǒu) – ward mate 

A friend made in a hospital can be called 病友 (bìngyǒu) in Chinese, literally “illness friend”. Hopefully, you don’t have to use that term often.

  • 我住院的时候,病友给了我很多帮助。
    Wǒ zhù yuàn de shíhou, bìngyǒu gěi le wǒ hěnduō bāngzhù.
    When I was hospitalized, my ward mates helped me a lot.

战友 (zhànyǒu) – fellow soldier, companion in arms

Peace is one of humanity’s most precious needs. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to fight for it. when referring to your battle brothers, you’d say 战友 (zhànyǒu).

Example:

  • 他和战友一起参加了俄乌战争。
    Tā hé zhànyǒu yìqǐ cānjiā le É Wū zhànzhēng.
    He and his comrades fought in the Russo-Ukrainian War.

盟友 (méngyǒu) – ally

Finally, “ally” in Chinese. If you want to talk about a country’s friends in a political context, you can say 盟友 (méngyǒu), literally “alliance friend”.

  • 英国和澳大利亚是美国的盟友
    Yīngguó hé ÀodàlìYà shì Měiguó de méngyǒu.
    The UK and Australia are America’s allies.

Related Reading: 197 Country Names in Chinese (plus Abbreviations)

FAQs about Friend in Chinese

1. How do I say BFF in Chinese?

There are various ways to say BFF, or “best friends forever” in Chinese, depending on the gender of the speaker and his/her friend. If you’re in a pinch, the word 死党 (sǐdǎng) is the most frequently used one these days and is okay to use for either gender.   

2. How do I say FWB in Chinese?

The word for FWB, or “friends with benefits” in Chinese is 炮友 (pào yǒu) – literally “cannon friend”. You can also say 性伴侣 (xìng bànlǚ) – “sex partner” in a more formal way.

3. How do I say “soulmate” in Chinese?

The literal translation of “soulmate” in Chinese is 灵魂伴侣 (línghún bànlǚ). But the word is actually not common at all in China. A better way of referring to someone who truly gets you (totally platonic ) is 知音 (zhīyīn).

4. How do I say “friendship” in Chinese?

The Chinese word for friendship is 友谊 (yǒuyì). You’ll be able to appreciate this term more once you’ve met Chinese friends of your own.

5. How do I introduce a friend in Chinese?

To introduce your friend in Chinese, simply start the sentence with 这是我的朋友 (Zhè shì wǒ de péngyou) – meaning “This is my friend” and finish it with the name of the person you want to introduce. (Read more on how to introduce someone in Chinese)

Friend in Chinese: What Youve Learned

friend in Mandarin

There are many different options in Mandarin Chinese for interacting with and referring to your friends. We hope this article not only taught you how to say friend in Chinese, but also the basics of Chinese culture.

Here’s a recap of all the friend-related vocabulary we’ve covered in this article along with English translations.  

ChinesePinyin Pronunciation English
朋友péngyoufriend
我的朋友wǒ de péngyoumy friend
我的一个朋友wǒ de yí gè péngyoua friend of mine
好朋友hǎo péngyougood friend
最好的朋友zuìhǎo de péngyoubest friend
最最好的朋友zuìzuìhǎo de péngyouvery best friend
老朋友lǎo péngyouold friend
男朋友nánpéngyouboyfriend
女朋友nǚpéngyougirlfriend
男性朋友nánxìng péngyoumale friend
女性朋友nǚxìng péngyǒufemale friend
小朋友xiǎopéngyoukid
友人yǒurénfriend (formal)
兄弟xiōngdìbrother/friend
哥们儿gē menr friend/bro/dude
姐妹jiěmèisister/friend
闺蜜guīmì(a woman’s) bosom friend
基友jī yǒugood buddy (informal)
小伙伴xiǎo huǒbànbuddy
死党sǐdǎngbest friend, BFF
知己zhījǐconfidant(e)
发小fàxiǎochildhood friend
忘年交wàngniánjiāomuch older/younger friend
伙计huǒjipal (in movies)
老铁lǎo tiěbro (outdated)
同伴tóngbàncompanion (in activities)
伴侣bànlǚlife partner
合伙人héhuǒ rénbusiness partner
性伴侣xìng bànlǚsex partner
亲友qīnyǒurelatives and friends
室友shìyǒuroommate
队友duìyǒuteammate
校友xiàoyǒu fellow alum
同学tóngxuéclassmate, schoolmate
同事tóngshìcolleague
网友wǎngyǒuonline friend
笔友bǐ yǒupen pal
球友  qiú yǒuball sports buddy
牌友  pái yǒucard games buddy
棋友qí yǒuboard games buddy
驴友lǘ yǒutravel buddy
病友bìngyǒuward mate
战友zhànyǒucompanion in arms
盟友méngyǒually
炮友pào yǒuFWB
知音zhīyīnsoulmate
友谊yǒuyìfriendship

朋友 (péngyou) is the most common word for saying “friend” in Chinese and when you are unsure about the formality of the situation, it is your go-to expression.

But don’t exclude other words from your Chinese vocabulary. Go ahead and explore the broad spectrum of ways to express friendship in Chinese!  

Want to Learn More Chinese?

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