How to distinguish between a female friend and a girlfriend?

  • The word Freundin can mean either a girlfriend or a female friend. In some cases, they can be distinguished by using the possessive pronoun to refer to the former:

    Ich habe mit meiner Freundin (girlfriend) gegessen.

    Ich habe mit einer Freundin (female friend) gegessen.

    Sometimes, though, this isn't possible. For example, how to translate these sentences?

    -- How was your trip?
    -- Great, I've met a new (girl)friend.

    A drink for my (girl)friend too, please.

    How is this distinction usually made?

    If you order a drink for your friend, it is no one's business whether she is your girlfriend or not.

    @thei: An unambiguous phrase would be useful e.g. if the bartender was her insane ex.

    I guess sometimes you might want to establish subtly that you are or aren't a couple.

    @tim Then I suggest you go to another bar.

    The same problem (albeit less severe) exists in English, too: sometimes, “girl friend” (as opposed to “girlfriend”) is used, but sounds identical.

    Same question is works with male friend and boyfriend, too. :)

    @KonradRudolph The ambiguity doesn't necessarily exist in English. You would just say "friend", since English nouns don't have gender like German ones. Also, stress is different between "girlfriend" and "girl friend" -- see the canonical example of "blackbird" vs "black bird", eg at http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000310.htm

    @Arthaey Oh but you sometimes do use “girl friend” in speech to distinguish the gender. You are right about stress but that is easily lost.

  • Phira

    Phira Correct answer

    10 years ago

    When it is really very important to make the distinction, I might use:

    meine Freundin

    vs.

    eine Freundin von mir

    In the restaurant situation, you might consider switching to

    ein Glas Wein für die Dame hier

    or much more frequently

    Könnten wir noch ein Glas Wein haben?

    and sort out the details when the wine is brought to the table.

    Thanks, I hadn't thought of "eine Freundin von mir". It solves the problem nicely. Do you know of a similar way to unambiguously mean "girlfriend", or does "meine Freundin" already accomplish that?

    @Tim "Meine Freundin" is ambiguous, you will have to resort to body language if you want to make a point.

    Hast du in jeder Stadt eine andere Freundin? ;)

    @splattne: Das wäre "eine meiner Freundinnen".

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM