In the English-speaking world, there are many clichés about French expressions and the way they are used by French people. A few weeks ago, we talked about the expression “oh là là“, or recently “touché“.

Today, we are going to talk about the use and the meaning of “mon ami” so that you will never make the mistake again when you speak to French people!

What does the expression “mon ami” mean in French?

Mon ami (or mon amie, the feminine version) means in English “My friend”. The term ” ami ” comes from the Latin ” amicus “, itself derived from the verb ” amare ” which means ” aimer ” (=to love). It is a noun phrase that refers to a male individual with whom one has a friendship. The feminine version of the expression, “mon amie”, is pronounced the same way when spoken, but will take the mark of the feminine (the – e) when written.

“Mon ami” is the expression used to designate a close friend, a person who is dear to us. The expression is used in a friendly and platonic way in most cases, but it can also be used romantically.

Indeed, although less common, the term can also be used to refer to his or her partner. Depending on the situation, “mon ami(e)” can be interchanged with “mon copain” (my boyfriend), “ma copine” (my girlfriend), and “mon pote” (=my buddy), as well as with “mon conjoint” (my partner), “mon amant” (=my lover) or “ma fiancé” (=my fiancé).

How to pronounce “mon ami”?

The main difficulty when you want to pronounce “mon ami” correctly is to make the connection between the “n” of “mon” and the “a” of “ami”. By pronouncing it, one could almost believe that one says only one word: “monami”. The phonetic writing of the phrase is: /mɔ̃n friend/.

How is “mon ami” used in everyday language in France?

Contrary to many American movies and cartoons depicting French culture, the term “mon ami” is almost never used as a French idiomatic expression. Saying “bonjour mon ami” to a French person is not something natural, but rather a cliché, translated directly from English.

This is a far cry from the “Hello, my friend!” and “How are you doing, my friend? In France, in the vast majority of cases, the terms “mon ami” and “mon amie” will simply be used to designate a person or a relative in a sentence.

Examples :

Mon amie vient juste d’arriver => My friend just arrived

J’ai passé quelques jours chez mon ami => I’ve spent a few a few days at my friend’s place

So, if you are looking for the best translation of expressions such as “Hello friends” or “How are you my friend?”, it would be better to use synonyms of “mon ami” that are more generally used by the French or simply delete the term in its entirety.

Examples :

Hi my friend ! => Salut !

Hello friends ! => Salut les potes ! (colloquial) ; Salut les copains ! (colloquial)

Finally, young French people will prefer to use more colloquial expressions to mark their attachment to their friends such as ” frère “, ” gros “, ” cousin “, ” le sang “, etc… Some of these expressions can be translated word for word into English, while for others, there is no literal translation. You can ready our article about the French slang, those words will be explained! 

Examples :

Comment ça va, mon frère ? => How are you doing, brother

Salut, gros ! => Hey, dude !

C’est le sang ! => He is family ! (by talking to a friend)

Expressions derived from ” mon ami ” (my friend)

Like the term “friend” in English, the noun phrase “mon ami” has given rise to many expressions commonly used in French culture.

Mon petit ami et ma petite amie 

In French, the expressions “un petit ami” or “une petite amie” will be used to designate the romantic partner of an individual in everyday life, generally at a stage of the relationship still young. Despite the addition of the adjective “petit”, we are not talking about the size of the friend, but rather about the closeness of the relationship with the friend in question. 

The expression “mon petit ami” reinforces the romantic meaning of “my friend”. It is the equivalent of “my boyfriend/girlfriend” in English, “il mio ragazzo/la mia ragazza” in Italian, or “mi novio/mi novia” in Spanish. In French, there are also a lot of synonyms: “mon petit copain/ma petite copine”, “mon compagnon/ma compagne”, “mon chéri/ma chérie”…

Mon meilleur ami et ma meilleure amie

Another expression formed by adding a superlative to “mon ami” would be ” mon meilleur ami “. Un meilleur ami is usually the person closest to an individual in a friendly way, the one they trust the most.

The same expression is found word for word in English with my best friend, Spanish (mejor amigo/amiga) and Italian (migliore amico/amica). Depending on the situation, it will be possible to use the expressions “mon meilleur pote” (=my best buddy), “mon collègue” (=my colleague), “mon acolyte” (=my sidekick) or “ma moitié” (=my half) instead of “mon meilleur ami/ma meilleure amie”.

Mon très cher ami et ma très chère amie

In written or spoken language, the French often use the phrase “mon très cher ami” to express their friendly feelings and affection for someone. In other languages, we also find a similar expression with “my dear friend” in English, “il mio caro amico” in Italian and “mi querido amigo” in Spanish.

In French, you will also hear the expression “très cher” used as an apostrophe, as in the sentence: “Comment allez-vous, très cher? This expression is also a derived expression. It is simply the shortened version of “mon très cher ami” (=my dearest friend)

Example : 

Comment allez-vous, mon très cher ami ? => How are you, my dearest friend?

“Mon ami” in French popular culture

The use of the nominal group “mon ami” can be found in the title of many outstanding works of French culture, in the field of music as well as in literature and in the seventh art.

French songs with the term “mon ami”

The expression “mon ami” seems to be over-represented in French songs, especially in the 20th century. We can find famous titles that include the expression such as “Mon ami la rose” by Françoise Hardy, a classic of the French variety of the 1970s, “Mon ami, mon maître” by the French singer and composer Serge Lama, or “Mon amour, mon ami” by Marie Laforêt, another classic of the French variety of the 1970s. More recently, you could hear the song “Mon ami” by the French singer Zouk Kim in the 2000s (I am not a big fan).

Works of French literature with the expression “mon ami”

Mon ami has also become the title of some major literary works of French culture. One thinks of Anatole France’s memoir “Le livre de mon ami“, a classic of French literature first published in 1985, but also of Astrid Desbordes’ children’s book “Mon ami”, a book with unique illustrations and story that aims to share the ideas of acceptance of differences and inclusiveness with young children.

French-speaking films entitled “mon ami”

Among the best French films, there are some classics that have included the expression “mon ami” in their title in order to increase their worldwide influence. This is the case of the French comedy “Mon ami le cambrioleur”, released in 1950, the French crime film “Trop petit mon ami” distributed in the 1970s, or the most recent Quebec film “Mon ami Walid”, released in 2019.

I hope that the meaning of the expression “mon ami” will no longer hold any secrets for you! Now you know how to use it perfectly in a French sentence not as “omelette du fromage“.

Translated into English by Sacha