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French Sayings and Proverbs

French saying and proverbs: There are some expressions that mean the same the whole world over. In the French language and the English language there are times when expressions mean the same but the words can seem to have a completely different meaning.

Take for instance the English language expression “No Pain, no gain” – quick, simple and direct. In French although the meaning is exactly the same the expresion used is ”Il faut casser le noyau pour avoir l’amande” which literally means “One has to break a nut to have the almond”.

Often the French phrases are a little less obvious, maybe more poetic and sometimes quite odd.

Here are some  fun French expressions and proverbs:

English Proverb French Proverb Literal French meaning
Never say never Il ne faut jamais dire ‘Fontaine, je ne boirai pas de ton eau’ One should never say, ‘Fountain, I will never drink your water’
Never say die Il ne faut jamais jeter le manche après la cognée One should never throw the handle after the felling axe
You can’t have your cake and eat it too On ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre One can’t have the butter and the money from [selling] the butter
Better late than never Mieux vaut tard que jamais Late is worth more than never
Enough is enough Tant va la cruche à l’eau qu’à la fin elle se casse. So often the pitcher goes to the water that in the end it breaks
Tall oaks from little acorns grow Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières The little streams make the big rivers
There’s no telling what tomorrow will bring Les jours se suivent et ne se ressemblent pas The days follow each other and don’t look alike
Robbing Peter to pay Paul Il ne sert à rien de déshabiller Pierre pour habiller Paul It serves no purpose to undress Peter to dress Paul
If the shoe fits, wear it Qui se sent morveux, qu’il se mouche He who feels stuffy should blow his nose
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree Les chiens ne font pas des chats Dogs don’t make cats
Don’t jump to conclusions Il y a plus d’un âne à la foire qui s’appelle Martin There’s more than one donkey named Martin at the fair

 

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