We have friends, and then we have ‘good’ friends. Clearly there are degrees of friendship, and a good friend is better than simply a friend. There must be a spectrum from contact to acquaintance, to friend, to good friend, to best friend, presumably.

We don’t have bad friends though. ‘I’d like to thank my bad friend John for his support.’ Surely a bad friend gets relegated to an acquaintance or worse. The only place where this works is in some sections of American society where bad means good, as in your bad self, that song/movie/game was bad, and so on.

In the context of my good friend, then, good really means close or dear. We use the phrase ‘my good friend’ to add emphasis and kudos to our friendship, to compliment them as a friend and by extension to express gratitude for the friendship, I think.

How many good friends do you have? And can you only have one best friend, by definition? And one last question, does it depend on the context of the conversation – a private word or public speaking – as to how many ‘my good friends’ you have?