Group Discussion: Friends and Friendships

Hello and thank you for checking out the Start Gate English blog!

Every week on Monday at 3pm and Tuesday at 7pm we have a one-hour group discussion on a different topic. This class is open to any and all students, but recommended for intermediate and advanced. We have 2-4 students in each class. The teacher asks questions and discusses the answers with the students, and students can ask questions to each other (and the teacher, too!). You are welcome to bring a dictionary or ask the teacher if you need help. One lesson is 1500-2500 yen, depending on how many tickets you buy. If you are interested, please check out the website or contact me directly. If you are not available on Monday at 3pm or Tuesday at 7pm, but would like to join, please tell me your available days and times and I will be happy to set up another class for you!

On to the discussion!

First, here is the lexical set (a group of words and expressions necessary for the discussion).  This time I’ve decided to combine the initial lexical set with the new words as well:

Friendship Lexical Set:

  • Commonalit(y/ies): 共通点、共通性

– Something that is shared or common among two or more people.

Example: Having commonalities is important for maintaining friendships.

  • Friend(s): 友達

– A person that someone knows, likes and trusts.

Example: My friends and I often play sports together.

  • Friendship(s): 友情

– Being friends with someone, having a relationship with a friend

Example: It’s important to respect your friendships.

  • Qualit(y/ies): 特性

– A characteristic or trait, something used to describe something else

Example: Honesty is an important quality in a friend.

  • Reunion(s): 再会の集い

– A gathering of people who have been separated for a long time.

Example: I saw lots of old friends at my high school reunion.

  • Saying(s): 諺、格言

– A proverb or maxim

Example: “Look before you leap” is my favorite saying.

  • Consider: 。。だと考える

– Think of s/o as s/t, Regard s/o as s/t

Example: I consider you my best friend.

  • Cut (off): 切り捨てる

– Separate from, Discontinue

Example: My wife dislikes him, so I had to cut off our friendship.

  • Describe: 説明する

– Give an account or represent what s/t is

Example: Can you describe your best friend?

  • Develop: 発展する

– Help s/t grow

Example: It takes time to develop a friendship.

Maintain: 維持する

– Keep up, continue, preserve, keep in good condition

Example: I’ve maintained several of my childhood friendships even as an adult.

  • Best: 最高な

– Surpassing all others, greatest

Example: He’s my best friend in the world.

  • Childhood:  幼い

– The time or state of being a childhood

Example: I have very fond memories of my childhood.

  • Close: 親しい

– Feeling intimate, having a strong relationship

Example: She’s a very close friend, so I can tell her anything.

  • Considerate: 思いやりのある

– Regarding the feelings or needs of others.

Example: Thank you for being so considerate, and I’m sorry I was so selfish.

  • Helpful: 助けになる

– Providing or offering help

Example: He fixed my broken sink for free!  He’s so helpful.

  • Honest: 素直な、真実だけを言うこと

– Not telling lies

Example: I know you want to be honest but telling a woman her hair looks terrible is a bad idea.

  • Long-Distance: 遠距離の

– between two distant places

Examples: My best friend moved to America, so now he’s a long-distance friend.

  • Understanding: 物分かりが良い

– Appreciating the thoughts or feelings of others.

Example: I thought he would never forgive me, but he was so understanding.

Other Expressions and Patterns
  • Be open (with s/o): 隠し立てしない

– Candid, frank, receptive, free of prejudice

Example: It’s nice to be open with someone you love.

  • Circle of friends: 仲間

– One’s group of friends

Example: He has a very big circle of friends

  • Get along with: 仲良しする、円滑な関係がある

– Maintain a harmonious relationship with

Example: I don’t love my father in law, but we get along.

注意! “Get along with” does not necessarily mean “be friends with”!  Two people may not like each other, but as long as they don’t fight or have any problems, they “get along”.


1. My wife and I are getting along every day.  X

This is often a mistranslation of 仲良くしてる.  This doesn’t make sense in English.

2. We don’t hate each other, but we don’t fight, so we get along.  O

This makes perfect sense in English.  Even though they don’t like each other, their relationship is harmonious.

3. My wife and I get along very well.  O

This is a better translation of 仲良くしてる.

  • Give s/o space: 距離を置く

– Allow a period of time apart

Example: I don’t want to talk to you right now, please give me some space.

  • Make A different from/than B: 見分ける、弁別する、識別する

– Distinguish

Example: The food and hospitality make Osaka different than Tokyo.

  • Mutual friends: 共通の友達

– A group of three or more friends who all know each other.

Example: We are mutual friends from college.

  • Old/New friends: 旧友・新しい友達

– A friend who you have known a long/short time.

Example: He’s a very old friend of mine from elementary school./Let’s go to this party and make some new friends!

注意! ”Old friend” does not mean お年の友達!  That would be expressed as “a friend who is old”.


1. He is my old friend.  He is 85 years old.  X

2. He is an old friend.  We met 20 years ago.  O

  • Out of N: 名刺の中で

– Among

Example: Out of the four seasons in Japan, spring is my favorite.

New Collocations!

A. So what can we do with friendships?  Well, on the positive side we can:

  1. Develop friendships
  2. Make friendships
  3. Start a new friendship

We can develop friendships by spending time with friends, talking more and getting closer!  We make friendships or start a new friendship by meeting new people!

On the negative side, we can:

  1. Cut off friendships
  2. End friendships

Cutting off friendships is slightly different from ending them.  When we “cut” someone “off” it means we ignore them completely!  We don’t respond to any contact at all.  When we “end” a friendship, this is not necessarily true.   Very often it is true, but we may still interact with them, but we just don’t consider them a friend any more.

B. Circle of friends

Sometimes we get new friends, sometimes we lose old friends.  How can we collocate “circle of friends” to express this?

If we get new friends, we expand our circle of friends.  We can also say our circle of friends expands.

If we lose friends, our circle of friends shrinks or diminishes.

Ok, that’s it!  On to the questions!

1. What is a friend?  What qualities are important in a friend?

The students agreed that a friend is someone you like and get along with easily.  They thought that commonalities and understanding were important qualities.   They thought friends should be honest.  They are also helpful, but the students couldn’t agree whether students should help with financial problems or not!

2. What makes friends different from family?

One student said he can be totally open with family, but he has to be more careful with friends.  Another student said that family lives together, so they need to help each other with more things, like money!

3. What do you usually do with your friends?

The students said they do hobbies, sports or activities with their friends.  One student often goes sailing with his friends.  Another student is part of a tennis club, so he plays tennis with his friends.

4. Do you still have any childhood friends?  Tell me about them.

The students still have childhood friends.  They occasionally meet up with them at reunions.  They have moved quite a few times.  One of the students stopped meeting his old friends after he retired because he wanted to make new friends!

5. Do you have any long distance friends?  How do you keep in touch with them?

All of the students said they did.  However, they only send cards to them once or twice a year, around Christmas or New Year’s.  They never visit them.

6. Do you make friends easily?

The students said they aren’t, but one student said his wife is!

7. What is a best friend?  How are they different from other friends?

One student said a best friend is more considerate and helpful than other friends.  You can also be more open with best friends.  Trust is important.  One of the students’ best friends are all mutual friends.  The students couldn’t pick a closest friend out of their best friends.

8. How can I make new friends?

The students suggested joining clubs or taking classes to make new friends.

9. There is a saying in English: “To have a good friend, you need to be a good friend.”  Do you agree with this?  What does it mean to you?

The students agreed with it.  One student said it means you need to give your friends space.  In other words, don’t bother your friends too much!

Do you think friends should help out with financial troubles?  Why or why not?  What do you think are some good ways to make new friends?  Let me know on twitter or in the comments section below!



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