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The word Freundin can mean either a girlfriend or a female friend. In some cases, they can be distinguished by using the possessive pronoun to refer to the former:

Ich habe mit meiner Freundin (girlfriend) gegessen.

Ich habe mit einer Freundin (female friend) gegessen.

Sometimes, though, this isn't possible. For example, how to translate these sentences?

-- How was your trip?
-- Great, I've met a new (girl)friend.

A drink for my (girl)friend too, please.

How is this distinction usually made?

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12  
If you order a drink for your friend, it is no one's business whether she is your girlfriend or not. –  Phira Jun 5 '11 at 17:04
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@thei: An unambiguous phrase would be useful e.g. if the bartender was her insane ex. –  Tim Jun 5 '11 at 17:06
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I guess sometimes you might want to establish subtly that you are or aren't a couple. –  misterben Jun 5 '11 at 17:10
    
@tim Then I suggest you go to another bar. –  user245 Jun 5 '11 at 19:43
    
The same problem (albeit less severe) exists in English, too: sometimes, “girl friend” (as opposed to “girlfriend”) is used, but sounds identical. –  Konrad Rudolph Jun 6 '11 at 9:06

7 Answers 7

up vote 21 down vote accepted

When it is really very important to make the distinction, I might use:

meine Freundin

vs.

eine Freundin von mir

In the restaurant situation, you might consider switching to

ein Glas Wein für die Dame hier

or much more frequently

Könnten wir noch ein Glas Wein haben?

and sort out the details when the wine is brought to the table.

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Thanks, I hadn't thought of "eine Freundin von mir". It solves the problem nicely. Do you know of a similar way to unambiguously mean "girlfriend", or does "meine Freundin" already accomplish that? –  Tim Jun 5 '11 at 17:16
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@Tim "Meine Freundin" is ambiguous, you will have to resort to body language if you want to make a point. –  Phira Jun 5 '11 at 17:43
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Hast du in jeder Stadt eine andere Freundin? ;) –  splattne Jun 5 '11 at 18:43
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@splattne: Das wäre "eine meiner Freundinnen". –  Phira Jun 5 '11 at 18:44

Both the English language and the German one have various possible choices to express relationships.

In English you can say: "I have met my new lover on my vacation." That translates into German: "Ich habe meine neue Geliebte in meinem Urlaub kennengelernt."

In German that sentence sounds a bit formal and you would normally use a more ambiguous "Ich habe meine neue Freundin in meinem Urlaub kennengelernt." That usually means girlfriend but there are cases where it doesn't.

A informal way to order a drink for your girlfriend might be: "Bitte ein Glas für meinen Schatz." Specifying that she isn't your girlfriend could be done via "Bekannte" but mostly that wouldn't be done.

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Indeed, there are situations where some clarification is needed. If you wan´t to be explicit:

Meine Freundin or Meine Lebensgefährtin (companion in life, used for comitted long-time-relationships)

vs.

Meine gute Freundin (my dear female friend.)

That way you express that she is "just" a friend, but without reducing her to beeing "just" something.

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For the first example, you can use the same means of distinction:

-- Wie war deine Reise?
-- Toll, ich habe eine neue Freundin kennengelernt. (a new female friend)

-- Wie war deine Reise?
-- Toll, ich habe meine neue Freundin kennengelernt. (your new girlfriend)

Beware, though, that the latter also implies that she still is your girlfriend.

(Although "getroffen" would be the more literal translation for "met", I'd choose "kennengelernt" here.)

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+1 for pointing out the "treffen" vs. "kennenlernen" thing! "Treffen" is only a good translation of "to meet", if you mean "to run into someone" or "to meet at an appointed time/place" - whenever "to meet" refers to getting aquainted, use "kennenlernen" –  Mac Sep 30 '11 at 8:26

Well if she is a close friend, you can say

Meine gute Freundin

And if is not (or you don't want to share that information), you can say

Meine Bekannte

Or you could be more specific about where you know her from

Meine Kollegin
Meine Kommilitonin
Meine Schulfreundin

As for ordering something for your female company, it is relatively uncommon to communicate the nature of your relationship.

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Bei "meine Bekannte" muss ich unweigerlich an Rüdiger Hoffmann denken. ^^ –  ladybug Jun 7 '11 at 15:18
2  
Beware of "Bekannte". This word may be understood as "a girl I had sex with, but do not care about much" –  Ingo Sep 8 '11 at 15:02

thei's answer is very good if you're talking to someone not knowing who your girlfriend is. If you're talking to Tom, and Tom know that Mary is you girlfriend, then you can also say

meine Freundin Alicia

and it will be clear that this is just a female friend of yours.

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That only true if Tom knows that Mary is a your girlfriend and Tom knows that you know that he knows. In the absence of that knowledge it might very well refer to a girlfriend. –  Christian Oct 2 at 10:58

You could also say

meine feste Freundin

when talking about your girlfriend and

eine Freundin or meine Freundin

when talking about a female friend.

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"Meine feste Freundin" is probably good. If I used just "(m)eine Freundin" to talk about female friends, it would still be ambiguous, though. –  Tim Jun 5 '11 at 17:51
    
This is what I've learned, "feste Freundin" for someone with whom you have special relationship. –  user508 Jun 5 '11 at 18:11
    
"Meine feste Freundin" is definitely not ambiguous, but it sounds a bit formal. "Meine Freundin" will easily be ambiguous. –  Hendrik Vogt Jun 5 '11 at 19:02
    
@Hendrik: I concur. "Meine feste Freundin" is not formal in the sense that you would use it at a business dinner - it is rather something that I would expect to hear from an eighth-grader who's trying to sound important... –  Oliver Giesen Jun 9 '11 at 1:42
    
"feste Freundin" ist "long-term girlfriend". Wenn das der Fall ist, ist es korrekt und eindeutig. Wenn die Beziehung nur für kurze Zeit geplant ist, dann ist "feste Freundin" nicht korrekt und das Problem bleibt. –  gnasher729 Oct 3 at 14:46

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