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I'm writing an essay for German class and I was wondering how I would say that my friends mean a lot to me. I wrote "Sie (meine Freunde) bedeuten mir viel" but something about it just sounds...wrong. Is there a different/better way to phrase this in German?

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Sie bedeuten mir viel.

is perfectly fine. You could also say:

Sie sind mir wichtig.

Adding a sehr would also be a possibility.

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The sentence you quoted is actually ambiguous, because "Sie" could either be the third person plural pronoun or the second person polite address pronoun ("Entschuldigen Sie bitte").

If you meant third person then your sentence is perfectly fine. However, if you meant second person polite, then it does sound off, because you would not address your friends with a polite form, but instead a regular second person pronoun ("Du" or "Ihr" -> "Du bedeutest mir (sehr) viel", "Ihr bedeutet mir (sehr) viel")

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You could also say:

Ich habe sie (sehr) gern

or

Ich mag sie (sehr) gern

which would not sound so stiff in my opinion.

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If they are really close friends you never want to be without, you might consider using the phrase "am Herzen liegen" ("being close to your heart").

Meine Freunde liegen mir (sehr) am Herzen.

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