I have come across some sentences where both 认识朋友 and 交朋友 were translated as to make friends (even though typically 认识 is translated in English as to know). Is there a difference between them?

  1. 我去工作的时候,认识了很多朋友。

    Wǒ qù ɡōnɡzuò de shíhou, rènshi le hěn duō pénɡyou.

    When I went to work, I made many friends.

  2. 我在中国交了很多朋友。

    Wǒ zài Zhōnɡɡuó jiāole hěn duō pénɡyou.

    I made a lot of friends in China.

More generally, I am curious about whether in Chinese there are several verbs to express the same idea of to make friends (maybe it is also possible to say 做朋友?). In English, to say to make friends and to know friends is different. However, in Spanish these same expressions are equivalent: hacer amigos y conocer amigos.

2 Answers 2



交 in 交朋友 is short for 結交 (form relationship). Therefore, 交了很多朋友 means 'you formed many relationships with people who now are your friends


认识 means 'to know'. 认识了很多朋友 means 'got to know many people who now are your friends'

Comparing the two:

交了很多朋友 - formed relationships with many people --> became friends

认识了很多朋友 - got to know many people --> became friends

Therefore, they both mean 'made many friends'

結识 is the combination of 結交 and 认识

結识了很多朋友 - get to know and form relationship with many people --> became friends


Puco4 wrote:

maybe it is also possible to say 做朋友?

做朋友' can mean 'befriend (+ object)' or 'being a friend to (+ object)' e.g. 我想跟他做朋友 (I want to befriend him/ I want to become a befriend to him); 我和他做朋友已經十年了 (He and I have been friends for ten years)

You cannot say '我做了很多朋友' (I've been many friends). You have to say '我和很多人做了朋友' (I befriended many people) or (I've become friends to many people)

  • And what about 做朋友?Is it also possible to say it?
    – Puco4
    Jul 3, 2020 at 21:54
  • Please see my edition at the bottom part of my post
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 3, 2020 at 22:19
  • I thought 做 could be translated also as to do, but I guess in this context it doesn't work like this.
    – Puco4
    Jul 3, 2020 at 22:23
  • 1
    做 also means 'being'. when followed by an identity. e.g. 做法官 (being a judge); 做老师 (being a teacher)
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 3, 2020 at 22:29
  • 做 in '做家務'(doing housework) and '做工作' (do work) means 'do' because 家務 and 工作 are not identities
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 3, 2020 at 22:33

In Chinese culture, 交朋友 is more like "to make friends" and 认识朋友 "to know someone".

So, in your first example "我去工作的时候,认识了很多朋友", it's "to know many people". And the second "我在中国交了很多朋友" is "to make friends".

  • Can you explain what does it mean "to know friends" in Chinese? In English, I think this means when you are already friends with someone and you get more close and understand them better.
    – Puco4
    Jul 4, 2020 at 9:24
  • @Puco4 Sorry, then. That's not what I meant. My bad English. I meant 认识 is just to know someone and it's more business-like. I just edited my answer.
    – dan
    Jul 4, 2020 at 9:30
  • So in terms of the strength of the friendship, 认识朋友 < 交朋友?
    – Puco4
    Jul 4, 2020 at 9:34
  • 1
    @Puco4 Yes, that's what I meant. 交朋友 involves more activities than just to 认识.
    – dan
    Jul 4, 2020 at 9:38
  • 1
    交朋友 involves more activities than just to 认识 --> Yes, 'form relationship with people' is more active than 'get to know people'
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 4, 2020 at 10:07

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