It is only natural you would want to have a friend if you moved to a different country for some reason and therefore you don't have any local friend there.

As I was looking the other day into the usage of verbs that usually go together with the very popular word "friend," I learned, unexpectedly, English speakers hardly say, "get a friend," when they commonly say, "find a friend," which is very familiar to me too.

Even more interestingly and confusingly, they often talk about "getting" a girlfriend or boyfriend as well as "finding"a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Why not "get" a friend to mean the same as "find" a friend? I'm seriously curious if my understanding is correct.

  • 3
    The word "get" seems to me too mundane and banal for something as personal as finding a friend. It is the kind of word which is used for everyday things like "I must go to the shop and get some potatoes". If friends were had off the shelf then "get" might be appropriate. I might use it for "friend" if speaking very casually, but mostly I prefer a word like "find", which also implies selectivity. Choosing a fried is a more important decision than acquiring a good fitting pair of shoes.
    – WS2
    Oct 31, 2017 at 6:10
  • I guess James Taylor's song, "You've Got a Friend (in Me)," is a different construction? Oct 31, 2017 at 6:20
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    I miss the word "make" here.
    – Mr Lister
    Oct 31, 2017 at 7:04
  • Yes, that uses the word "got" in a different sense, and it is unnecessary. It would mean exactly the same to say "you have a friend in me"
    – WS2
    Oct 31, 2017 at 7:06
  • @MrLister Good point. I wish I had thought of that when writing my comment.
    – WS2
    Oct 31, 2017 at 7:08

2 Answers 2


One may get a friend

I'm going to get a friend to help me

but, that person must first be a friend.

To have a friend, one might



find a friend

Make a friend seems to be a more established idiom in English than finding a friend (that is for the process of becoming friends with somebody). I cannot find a authority offering a definition of finding a friend.

One might look for, or by chance, discover one who becomes a friend, and that can be finding a friend. Still, though, in finding a friend one is making a friend.

The accepted definition of get Oxford Living Dictionaries might cause one to think a friend could be got as well as made. English speakers, for whatever reason, seem not to think of getting a friend, rather they think of making one


I should say we 'make' friends, rather than 'get' them, which implies something one-sided, and not very friendly at all!

  • I agree. But you don't say "make a girlfriend or boyfriend" whereas it is perfectly fine to say "find a girlfriend or boyfriend", do you? Oct 31, 2017 at 17:23
  • @ChoeGuevara Boy/girlfriends are gotten, friends are made, and both can be found. This is just how the language is. Nov 1, 2017 at 1:21
  • No, but I can't think of any circumstance when I would say 'find' a boy/girlfriend either. ('I'm going to find a boy/girlfriend...'?) I can see that I may 'meet' or 'have' a boy/girlfriend, but not 'find'. Perhaps this is an English/American difference, the English don't use 'gotten' at all, even 'got' is not in an English dictionary, under 'got' is a referral to 'get'.
    – p edant
    Nov 1, 2017 at 19:11

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