I've learned 朋友 as a unit as a word for friend. When I look up the two characters I see that they both mean ... friend.

It seems 友 is often used as a last part of words meaning something with friend, like 好友 for good friend.

What is the difference of 朋 and 友? Do they have slighly different meanings when used separately, or are they identical in meaning and just used in different situations?

  • as dictionary entries for 朋 and 友 will show, they are both bound morphemes(粘着语素)(and 朋 possibly to a larger extent) as distinguished from free morphemes (自由语素),bound unlike free morphemes are not words (词). – user6065 Apr 3 '17 at 13:27
  • At 小马词典 find 88 compounds with 友 and 23 with 朋, 11 成语 among them – user6065 Apr 4 '17 at 23:57
up vote 4 down vote accepted

As a noun, both 朋 and 友 mean friends. While 朋 is mostly a noun, 友 is often be used as an adjective for 'friendly, ' as in '軍'(friendly force); '方'(friendly side)

can also be a verb for 'befriend' in classical sentences.

To find the subtle difference between two characters with similar meaning in a compound word, like 朋友,you can observe the other compound words they associate with.

Examples:

朋比為奸 friends collude in criminal acts

朋黨 circle (of friends); alliance (of friends)

The phrases above shows emphasis on the 'closeness' and 'alliance' between friends

友善 (friendly), 友好 (friendly), 友愛 (friendship), 友誼 (friendship)

The phrases above, shows emphasis on the ' fondness' and 'emotional tie' between friends'

  • Very interesting to read your answer, it really cleared things up. Good suggestion to look at other compound words to get the "feeling" for a character! – PetaspeedBeaver Apr 2 '17 at 19:08
  • You could add that foreigners will still find 友谊商店 in some cities, and the 友谊宾馆 is not at all a bad place to stay if your first trip to China includes Beijing. – Colin McLarty Apr 4 '17 at 23:38

I don't think anyone would say '他是我的朋。' nowadays.

You might hear 他是我的好友。 or 他是我的好朋友。

Old 孔子 said, 有朋自远方来 不亦乐乎。 but that was a long time ago!

Apparently, 朋 represents the wings of a legendary bird, like a phoenix. Maybe that means it brings luck or joy, like a good friend and 友 represents 2 right hands, like 'he's my right hand, my friend' or 'holding hands'

  • Indeed, 老友 for instance is an expression I hear often (in the South anyway). I don't think anyone says 老朋. – dda Apr 2 '17 at 8:36

“志同为朋,道合为友,” 然而现代正常中国人并不区分朋和友,

In Japanese, just the word "友" means a friend, and "朋" is a additive (or supplemental) character of meaning a friend (not used as a single word, for example"朋友", which is same as Chinese, I think). Perhaps it will help your understanding, and I will hope that will be usefull.

“朋” refers to the those who share a same period of education experience(classmates, schoolmates) 朋->同学 classmate, 朋党 -> the alumni

"友“ refers to those who have the common interests or goals and trust each other 友->同志 comrade, friend

In《论语》, the compound word 朋友 appears “与朋友交而不信乎”. The usage is very similar to what we use nowadays in modern Chinese.

朋means those who share the same teacher 「同師曰朋」《說文註》 友means those who share the same goal 「同志曰友」

  • It comes from 礼记, not 说文. – songyuanyao Apr 5 '17 at 13:51

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.