We have the phrase

Make friends with him

However, I'm wondering if it's ambiguous:

  1. You go from a state of non-friendship with him, to a state of friendship.

    A: 你想成为我的朋友吗?
    B: 好的!

  2. You both go out looking for friends.

    A: 你想出去交新朋友吗?
    B: 好的!

Perhaps there's some subtlety here I'm missing, but it seems like it's ambiguous.

Question: Can 跟他交朋友 mean both "become friends with him" and "with him, make [other] friends"?

3 Answers 3


跟他交朋友 is not ambiguous.

Although 跟 can mean "with" or "follow" but 交朋友 is not usually something you follow someone to do. Therefore, "跟他交朋友" should always mean "to make friend with him"

Notice: "跟他去交朋友" is ambiguous. Although 交朋友 is not something you follow someone to do, but the verb "去"(go) can be. However, 去 can also be a preposition for "to"

"跟他[]交朋友" could mean "follow him [to go] make friends" or "[to] make friend with him"

To make clear you mean "follow him to go make friends" you can say "跟著交朋友" (following him and go make friends)

Or even more clear: "跟著出去交朋友" (following him and go out to make friends)


To add a simple perspective to the other elaborated answer given, just think about the connotation to the English expression: "I made friends with him".

In 99.9% of the time, you would know that the meaning is only two people, you and another person, who become friends. If otherwise, the context would indicate this. The same logic applies in Chinese, in this case as well as in many other semantically ambiguous situations.


in this situation it's definitely "become friends with him"

unless you are in fraud intend , that your another answer is still correct. Take him back, I'll give you 1m. And you cut off one's hand and take back: I take him back, you didn't say take him back "alive"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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