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My students often write "to find new friends" when they mean "to make new friends", transferring it from German "Freunde finden".

Is that considered wrong by native speakers, or just informal? Is it even comprehensible for somebody who doesn't speak German?

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    Both usages, German and English, are idiomatic. You make new friends. You find solace in making new friends. You also find certain verismo opera passages riveting. Analyzing idioms is mostly an exercise in futility. You just memorize them and hope for the best. – Ricky Nov 19 '15 at 12:34
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    @lilalibelle you can also try to "strike up a friendship" with new people... idioms.thefreedictionary.com/strike+up+a+friendship – Elian Nov 19 '15 at 13:04
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    Yeah, they mean pretty much the same, only "find" implies that you're maybe looking a little farther afield, vs just becoming more friendly with those you'd normally associate with in work, class, etc. – Hot Licks Nov 19 '15 at 13:22
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"I want to find new friends".

"I want to make new friends".

These are both idiomatic and mean very similar things.

Using 'find' suggests that you will be looking beyond the normal places you would look. Using 'make' suggests that you will be concentrating on how you befriend people.

The difference is apparent if you think how you would answer differently,

How do you find new friends?

How do you make new friends?

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