mutual friends

Dear forum members!!!

Imagine two (or several) people have the same friends. For exampe, I have befriended John and my colleague, too. Is it possible to say:

"We have several (one, two,....) mutual friends"?

Another version is "We have some of the same friends" or "We both have the same friend(s)". The number of "us" does not matter. I wonder, can "mutual" be used with this meaning?

Thanks.
 
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Thanks!!! In my grammar book it is written that some people consider this usage of "mutual" incorrect. Is it true?
    It is true. The word "mutual" originally meant "reciprocal". A "mutual" friend would be a person to whom you were a friend, and who reciprocated that friendship by being a friend to you.

    You may express the idea without any criticism from anyone by saying "we have several friends in common."
     
    Could you clarify? Is it because they think of "mutual" as pertaining only to two?

    P.S. "Ditto" means "as above" or "as previously written" so Lady H was agreeing with your post.
    I think because of the reason you have suggested. "Mutual" is used to describe feelings between two people or behaviour of two people:

    1. I did not like him and I was sure my feeling was mutual (two people involved)

    2. their (the spouses') indifference to children (again two people involved)

    In my original sentence more than two people could be involved, because, for example, I and my colleague at work can have ten friends in common. That is why, "mutual" is sometimes questioned when come across in similar contexts.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    That is why, "mutual" is sometimes questioned when come across in similar contexts.
    No, mutual is questioned for the reason I gave you: it does not mean the same thing as "in common".

    A family made up of six people may have a mutual love for each other, but they could not have a mutual love of baseball, or a mutual interest in gardening, as sports or activities cannot love or be interested in anyone in return. Instead, they would only have a common love of baseball, or a common interest in gardening.
     
    Last edited:
    No, mutual is questioned for the reason I gave you: it does not mean the same thing as "in common".

    A family made up of six people may have a mutual love of each other, but they could not have a mutual love of baseball, or a mutual interest in gardening, as sports or activities cannot love or be interested in anyone in return. Instead, they would only have a common love of baseball, or a common interest in gardening.
    I see now!!! Thanks a lot!!! Your comment has been very helpful!!! Indeed, gardens and sports cannot shown any love in response.
     
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