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I was practicing TOEFL speaking test and one of the practice tasks was:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

Co-workers make the best friends.

My questions:

  1. Does this sentence mean the same as "Co-workers are the best friends."?
  2. If not, what does it mean?
  3. Why is "make" used here?
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    "Of all the kinds of people you might choose as friends, co-workers are the best choice." To make a good [something] means to be a good choice for that purpose. May 4 at 8:21
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No, it's referring to the process of becoming friends.

"Coworkers make the best friends" is saying that the state of being coworkers is the best way to befriend people. In general, "making friends" is an idiom for the process of befriending someone.

That's different to saying that you are friends with someone, since that denotes the befriending process as having completed.

Also, I'd disagree with the truth of that statement, since coworkers are often not friendly at all, and your relationship with them is often purely transactional at best. Just see the many questions on the Workplace SE site about conflicts between work colleagues to see proof of that!

I'm not sure why an English language test is asking you about office politics, however.

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    It is providing the learner with a topic to speak about! Coincidentally, a former colleague remarked to me only last week that, as neither of us has any close relatives living nearby, the people we used to work with are like a substitute family. May 4 at 8:27
  • @AkiraA Usually, I believe that the etiquette on this site is to wait 24 hours before accepting an answer, so as to allow people from different time zones the ability to see the question and write answers to it. Seeing the checkmark might discourage someone from writing an even better answer to this question, after all.
    – nick012000
    May 4 at 11:43
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It means when Co-workers become friends, they are "the best" friends. So, yes, it is close in meaning to saying they are the best friends.

Although if interpreted literally the sentence could mean that Co-workers are somehow very skilled at making friends, that is very likely not the intended interpretation.

  • Doctors make poor patients
  • War veterans make the best guards.
  • Lawyers make interesting conversation partners.
  • Doors make poor windows.

Sentences constructed like "[Noun A] make [Adjective] [Noun B]" are usually either literally describing one thing creating another (Babies make happy noises) or they are talking about how the first noun does if it tries to fill the role of the second noun. The correct interpretation depends on the context.

Sentences like this where it refers to one thing becoming another might actually be using "make for" but omitting the word "for". I'm not 100% sure that's true, but it sounds right. (I'm a native speaker, and I'm not perfect at knowing how to state all the grammatical rules.)

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