When a friend sends me a photograph of a vase, saying


and some months later presents it saying:


should I then usually assume, that the friend became a girlfriend/boyfriend (like in modern German), or is it normally unrelated to this difference?

  • It's hard to guess, and it depends. Without more explicit declaration, I prefer to "No".
    – user4072
    Aug 7 '15 at 8:31
  • @songyuanyao thanks. It is valuable to know I should not assume that in general.
    – Ludi
    Aug 7 '15 at 8:32
  • Yes, the relationship showed by the 2nd sentence does seem became closer than the 1st sentence, but still just friends, IMO.
    – user4072
    Aug 7 '15 at 8:45

In common context, the are literally the same.

But you can say the latter one shows 5% percent more friendship.

Since in Chinese we often omit some obvious verbs, we can get the following equation:

我朋友的 = 是我朋友的 ~ 是朋友的

Technically they are different just like:

tell the difference between : 

Q: where do you get this chair?
A: it's from my friend  /  from friend

People may argue about their difference. But As a Chinese, I would like to consider 我朋友的 and 是朋友的 the same thing under common context.


The fact that 我朋友 is mostly identical to 朋友 simply mostly has been addressed by the other answer. But it's worth noting that unlike in German, 朋友 is generally simply used to mean "friend" regardless of qualifier: if one wanted to explicitly say girlfriend or boyfriend, one would use 女朋友 or 男朋友. This isn't to say that the category of 朋友 can't include such individuals, but I would tend to read 我朋友 as just "friend" (with possible room for ambiguity).

The difference between 我朋友 and 朋友 is then about the same as that between "my friend" and "a friend", when used in a context such as that of the above. The dropping of 我 makes sense largely because this is "spoken" in the first person (so the 我 is implied even if it doesn't come up later) and because it clearly refers to someone the speaker knows. (This is similar to how in English, in the first person, "a friend" could be said to be short for "a friend of mine" in "a friend gave it to me".) In other cases such as in the second person, when whose friend it is is clear, there still could be conceivably a similar omission, but I'm not sufficiently convinced of their grammaticality or "correctness" to put examples down here.

Otherwise (and this is quite clearly not the scenario you are dealing with), 朋友 could be referring to any generic "friend" or "friends". (Note that English is similar in this regard.)


In your case, I cannot tell much difference.

The following are some use cases.

If you want to refer "particular people", use 我朋友. If you want to to refer "some people", 朋友 and 我朋友 are both OK.


Not much difference in this context:

  1. 我要去找朋友玩了。√
  2. 我要去找我朋友玩了。√

Similar in English:

  1. I am going to hang out with friends.
  2. I am going to hang out with my friends.

But we use 我朋友 when introducing people.

  1. 这是我朋友John. √
  2. 这是朋友John. x
  3. John是我朋友。√
  4. John是朋友。 x

I guess it is also quite the similar in English:

  1. This is friend John.√
  2. This is my friend John. x

If you want to emphasize its meaning, 我朋友 is usually better.

To express your anger or worry,


is better than


However, if you want to comfort the guy who broke the vase, you probably want to de-emphasize the meaning of it:

Alice: 我打碎的花瓶是谁的啊? Bob:是朋友的,不用担心

is slightly softer than

Alice: 我打碎的花瓶是谁的啊? Bob:是我朋友的,不用担心

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