(1)Almost her friends were living in that country

Dictionaries say the sentence above is grammatically wrong, as 'almost' is an adverb and it's impossible for that word to modify a noun.

To me, however, this kind of sentence below sounds perfectly natural:

(2)We were almost friends.

How would you explain to your ESL students why (2) is OK whereas (1) is not? Why is it impossible for (1) to mean 'They were almost friends with her and they were living in that country'?

And why does (2) sounds OK but this one sounds a bit awkward?

(2)' She was almost my friend/They were almost his friends.

Or does (2)' also sounds natural?
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#1 Can be easily corrected:

(1)Almost all her friends were living in that country.

Here almost modifies the adjective all.

But it does not describe the people who were just her acquaintances, not close friends.

(2)We were almost friends.

I would write: We were nearly friends.

Here, it is clearer that the adverb modifies the verb were." It is saying to what extent the person was a friend. It is not modifying the noun, friend.
AS, does 'They were almost/nearly my friends' sound OK?
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It is OK, but sounds a bit strange. Maybe in the context of Facebook it would be fitting, because "friend" takes on a new meaning, and even becomes a verb!
I know 'friend' is sometimes used as a verb. But how is it related to the fact that 'They were almost/nearly my friends' sounds a bit strange?
Well, usually we say someone is my friend, or isn't my friend. It's not a relationship that has an associated ambiguity, at least in my (American) culture. We talk about our circle of friends, and someone is either inside that circle or not. There aren't any near misses! If I know someone, but they are not a friend, I call them an acquaintance or a colleague.
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AlpheccaStarsWell, usually we say someone is my friend, or isn't my friend.
Then, does this sentence work, at least better than 'They were almost my friends'?

He was almost/nearly my friend.

(Still I don't really understand why 'They were almost my friends' sounds a bit strange as 'friend' is sometimes used as a verb, though)
Taka(1)Almost her friends were living in that country
Dictionaries say the sentence above is grammatically wrong, as 'almost' is an adverb and it's impossible for that word to modify a noun.
Yes. So far, so good.

TakaTo me, however, this kind of sentence below sounds perfectly natural:
(2)We were almost friends.
How would you explain to your ESL students why (2) is OK whereas (1) is not?
It is natural. friends is an adjective (meaning "in a 'friend' relationship").

TakaWhy is it impossible for (1) to mean 'They were almost friends with her and they were living in that country'?
I don't know. It just is impossible to have the same word (friends) act as both a noun and an adjective in the same sentence, I suppose! Emotion: smile

Taka(2)' She was almost my friend/They were almost his friends.
Or does (2)' also sounds natural?
None of these sounds terribly unnatural to me. To be "almost someone's friend" seems to me to mean to be friendly acquaintances, but not yet well-known or accepted enough to be called friends.

CJ
CalifJimIt is natural. friends is an adjective (meaning "in a 'friend' relationship").
Friends as an adjective?? Where did you find that definition, Jim? What dictionary is it?
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