Bonjour Mon Ami ! 12 ways to say Friend in French

Celine Segueg

Making French-speaking friends throughout your language learning journey is an excellent way to build in language practice that doesn’t feel like practice. But how do you refer to these friends in French? In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to say friend in French, from noun gender to slang terms to ways to express varying levels of friendship. Let’s go!

Ami: The basics of how to say Friend in French

The most common way to say friend in French is ami. Note that this is the base form of the noun, meaning that if you’re referring to a female friend or a plural group of friends, the form will change. As is usually the case with the noun gender of words referring to people, the word’s gender will match the person’s gender.

  • un ami: a male or nonbinary friend in French
  • une amie: a female friend in French
  • des amis: all-male or mixed-gender group of friends in French,
  • des amies: all-female group of friends in French

When using a possessive pronoun directly before the feminine singular form amie, we use the masculine singular possessive pronoun (mon, ton, son) to avoid vowel clash. Thus, mon ami is my friend in French for a male friend, and mon amie is my friend in French feminine.

  • Tu peux inviter ton amie Laura, si tu veux. – You can invite your friend Laura, if you want.
  • J’habite avec Charles, mon ami de volleyball. – I live Charles, my friend from volleyball.
  • Nous avons deux amies qui sont parties vivre au Canada : Valérie et Annie. – We have two friends who left to live in Canada: Valérie and Annie.
  • Les enfants ont beaucoup d’amis à l’école. – The kids have lots of friends at school.

It’s very common to greet friends as mon ami in French, or even to refer to them in the third person like this as a sign of respect. You do the same in English with my friend.

  • Bonjour mon ami ! Comment vas-tu ? – Hello my friend! How are you?
  • Joyeux anniveraire mon ami ! – Happy birthday my friend!

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Copain: Another way to say Friend in French

Another relatively common word for friend in French is copain. This noun is irregular, as its feminine form is copine. This word can be used just like ami, with copain indicating a friend whose gender is male or undefined, and copine indicating a female friend in French.

  • Mon copain va me rendre visite aujourd’hui. – My (male) friend is going to visit me today.
  • Elle est sortie avec ses copines. – She went out with her (female) friends.

More than friends: Relationships in French

Depending on context, there are a few different ways to express boyfriend or girlfriend in French.

The classic way to express a relationship status is to use the French adjective petit(e) in front of ami(e). In this context, petit doesn’t mean small; the entire phrase translates to boyfriend or girlfriend. This is a clear, unambiguous way to express refer to a boyfriend or girlfriend in French.

  • Jean est mon petit ami. – Jean is my boyfriend.
  • Sarah est ma petite amie. – Sarah is my girlfriend.

It’s also very common to just use copain or copine to refer to a boyfriend or girlfriend, but this is more ambiguous since these words can also be used with any friends in French. We definitely need to rely on context to be sure!

  • Jean, mon copain, est très romantique. – Jean, my boyfriend, is very romantic.
  • Sam et sa copine Sarah aiment se coller pendant qu’ils regardent la télé. – Sam and his girlfriend Sarah like to cuddle while they watch TV.

As relationships get more serious, there are even more terms for couples in French! We’ve also got you covered for French terms of endearment and ways to say I love you in French.

Note that in Québec it’s uncommon to refer to boyfriends and girlfriends as copain and copine. Instead, the equivalents are chum and blonde. These are never used in France.

Expressing levels of friendship in French

Sometimes, you may want a more precise word to express the type of friendship you share with someone. Luckily, we’ve got plenty of options in French!

An acquaintance Une connaissance
A classmate Une(e) camarade (de classe)
A colleague Un(e) collègue
A buddy, A pal Un(e) pote
A childhood friend Un(e) ami(e) d’enfance
A good friend Un(e) bon(ne) ami(e)
A close friend Un(e) ami(e) intime
A best friend Un(e) meilleur(e) ami(e)
A dear friend Un cher ami, Une chère amie


In informal spoken French, the most common way that friends refer to each other is actually pote. This is the same word whether talking about a male or female friend, but the possessive adjectives still need to match the gender.

  • J’ai vu ma pote au parc. Elle promenait son chien. – I saw my friend at the park. She was walking her dog.
  • Nous avons croisé ton pote d’escalade. Il s’appele comment encore ? – We ran into your friend from rock climbing. What’s his name again?

Conclusion: Friend in French

Expressing friendship in French encompasses a variety of different terms, allowing you to be as nuanced and specific as you wish. Today we saw the most common ways to refer to your friends in French, along with a variety of French friend vocabulary to reflect how you know each other.

Be sure to pay attention to context when people mention their friendships in French, as relationship status may not always be immediately clear from vocabulary. You have the full range of vocab at this point, whether you’re talking about an acquaintance, a close friend, a significant other, or your best friend in French!

Further reading

Today’s post focused on how to say friend in French. On the topic of friends, we’ll leave you with links to some of our other posts that cover various aspects of culture and vocab related to meeting up with your French friends!

When you first meet, you’ll want to know French greetings, bonjour, what is your namenice to meet you, I miss you, goodbye, and French texting abbreviations.

If you’re gathering for a special occasion, you’ll want to learn specific expressions for ordering food, Happy Bastille Day, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday, and Congratulations in French.

On managing the cultural differences when gathering with friends, you’ll want to learn about French greeting kisses, protocols for French happy hour, and the truth about certain French stereotypes.