You are on page 1of 5

French Proverbs - Proverbes français

Spice up your language with some French proverbs.

French English Literal translation


À coeur vaillant rien Nothing is impossible for a To a valient heart nothing
d'impossible. willing heart. impossible.
À l'impossible nul n'est tenu. No one is bound to do the
impossible.
Après la pluie le beau temps. Every cloud has a silver lining. After the rain, the nice
weather.
À quelque chose malheur est Every cloud has a silver lining. Unhappiness is good for
bon. something.
L'arbre cache souvent la Can't see the forest for the The tree often hides the
forêt. trees. forest.
Autres temps, autres Times change. Other times, other customs.
moeurs.
Aux grands maux les grands Desperate times call for To the great evils great
remèdes. desperate measures. remedies.
Aux innocents les mains Beginner's luck. Full hands for the innocents.
pleines.
Avec des si et des mais, on If ifs and ands were pots and With ifs and buts, one would
mettrait Paris dans une pans there'd be no work for put Paris in a bottle.
bouteille. tinkers' hands.
Aussitôt dit, aussitôt fait No sooner said than done Immediately said,
immediately done
Battre le fer pendant qu'il To strike while the iron is hot. To hit the iron while it's hot.
est chaud.
Bien mal acquis ne profite Ill gotten ill spent. Goods poorly gotten never
jamais. profit.
Bonne renommée vaut A good name is better than Well named is more is worth
mieux que ceinture dorée. riches. more than golden belt.
Bon sang ne saurait mentir. What's bred in the bone will Good blood doesn't know
come out in the flesh. how to lie.
C'est en forgeant qu'on Practice makes perfect. It's by forging that one
devient forgeron. becomes a blacksmith.
Ce sont les tonneaux vides Empty vessels make the most It's the empty barrels that
qui font le plus de bruit. noise. make the most noise.
Chacun voit midi à sa porte. To each his own. Everyone sees noon at his
door.
Un clou chasse l'autre. Life goes on. One nail chases the other.
Comme on fait son lit, on se You've made your bed, now
couche. you must lie on it.
En tout pays, il y a une lieue There will be bumps in the In every country there is a
de mauvais chemin. smoothest roads. league of bad road.
Entre l'arbre et l'écorce il ne Caught between a rock and a Between the tree and the
faut pas mettre le doigt. hard place. bark one shouldn't put a
finger.
L'exactitude est la politesse Punctuality is the politeness of
des rois. kings.
Heureux au jeu, malheureux Lucky at cards, unlucky in love. Happy in the game,
en amour. unhappy in love.
Il faut casser le noyau pour No pain no gain. You need to break the shell
avoir l'amande. to have the almond.
Il faut qu'une porte soit There can be no middle course. A door must be open or
ouverte ou fermée. closed.
Il faut réfléchir avant d'agir. Look before you leap. You have to think before
acting.
Il ne faut jamais dire « Never say never. You should never say,
Fontaine, je ne boirai pas de "Fountain, I will never drink
ton eau ! » your water!"
Il ne faut jamais jeter le Never say die. One should never throw the
manche après la cognée. handle after the felling axe.
Il ne faut rien laisser au Leave nothing to chance. Nothing should be left to
hasard. chance.
Il n'y a pas de fumée sans Where there's smoke, there's There's no smoke without
feu. fire. fire.
Il n'y a que les montagnes There are none so distant that There are only mountains
qui ne se rencontrent fate cannot bring together. that never meet.
jamais.
Il vaut mieux être marteau It's better to be a hammer It's better to be hammer
qu'enclume. than a nail. than anvil.
Impossible n'est pas There is no such word as Impossible isn't French.
français. "can't."
Les jours se suivent et ne se There's no telling what The days follow each other
ressemblent pas. tomorrow will bring. and don't look alike.
Un malheur ne vient jamais It never rains but it pours. Misfortune never comes
seul. alone.
Le mieux est l'ennemi de Let well enough alone. Best is good's enemy.
bien.
Mieux vaut plier que rompre. Adapt and survive. Better to bend than to
break.
Mieux vaut prévenir que Prevention is better than cure. Better to prevent than to
guérir. cure.
Mieux vaut tard que jamais. Better late than never. Late is worth more than
never.
Les murs ont des oreilles. Walls have ears.
Noël au balcon, Pâques aux A warm Christmas means a Christmas on the balcony,
tisons. cold Easter. Easter at the embers.
On ne fait pas d'omelette You can't make an omelette
sans casser des oeufs. without breaking eggs.
On ne peut pas avoir le You can't have your cake and You can't have the butter
beurre et l'argent du beurre. eat it too. and the money from the
butter.
On ne peut pas être à la fois You can't be in two places at One can't be at the oven
au four et au moulin. once. and the mill at the same
time.
On ne prête qu'aux riches. Only the rich get richer. One only lends to the rich.
Paris ne s'est pas fait en un Rome wasn't built in a day. Paris wasn't made in a day.
jour.
Les petits ruisseaux font les Tall oaks from little acorns The little streams make the
grandes rivières. grow. big rivers.
Quand on veut, on peut. Where there's a will, there's a When one wants, one can.
way.
Qui aime bien châtie bien. Spare the rod and spoil the He who loves well punishes
child. well.
Qui casse les verres les paie. You pay for your mistakes. He who breaks the glasses
pays for them.
Qui craint le danger ne doit If you can't stand the heat, get He who fears dangers
pas aller en mer. out of the kitchen. shouldn't go to sea.
Qui donne aux pauvres prête Charity will be rewarded in He who gives to the poor
à Dieu. heaven. loans to God.
Qui dort dîne. He who sleeps forgets his He who sleeps eats.
hunger.
Quand le vin est tiré, il faut Once the first step is taken When the wine is drawn,
le boire. there's no going back. one must drink it.
Qui m'aime aime mon chien. Love me love my dog. He who loves me loves my
dog.
Qui m'aime me suive. Come all ye faithful. He who loves me, follow me.
Qui n'entend qu'une cloche Hear the other side and believe He who hears only one bell
n'entend qu'un son. little. hears only one sound.
Qui ne dit mot consent. Silence implies consent. He who says nothing
consents.
Qui ne risque rien n'a rien. Nothing ventured, nothing He who risks nothing has
gained. nothing.
Qui peut le plus peut le He who can do more can do
moins. less.
Qui se marie à la hâte se Marry in haste, repent later. He who marries in haste
repent à loisir. repents in leisure.
Qui sème le vent récolte la As you sow, so shall you reap. He who sows the wind reaps
tempête. the storm.
Qui se sent morveux, qu'il se If the shoe fits, wear it. He who feels stuffy should
mouche. blow his nose.
Qui s'y frotte s'y pique. Watch out - you might get He who rubs against it gets
burned. stung.
Qui terre a, guerre a. He who has land has quarrels. Who land has, war has.
Qui trop embrasse mal He who grasps at too much He who hugs too much holds
étreint. loses everything. badly.
Qui va à la chasse perd sa He who leaves his place loses He who goes hunting loses
place. it./Step out of line and you'll his place.
lose your place.
Qui va lentement va More haste less speed. He who goes slowly goes
sûrement. surely.
Qui veut la fin veut les The end justifies the means. He who wants the end wants
moyens. the means.
Qui veut voyager loin He who takes it slow and He who wants to travel far
ménage sa monture. steady travels a long way. spares his mount.
Qui vivra verra. What will be will be./Time will He who lives will see.
tell.
La raison du plus fort est Might makes right. The strongest reason is
toujours la meilleure. always the best.
Rien ne sert de courir, il faut Slow and steady wins the race. Running is worthless, you
partir à point. have to leave on time.
Rira bien qui rira le dernier. Whoever laughs last laughs Will laugh well he who
best. laughs last.
Si jeunesse savait, si Youth is wasted on the young. If youth knew, if old age
vieillesse pouvait. could.
Un sou est un sou. Every penny counts A cent is a cent
Tant va la cruche à l'eau qu'à Enough is enough. So often the pitcher goes to
la fin elle se casse. the water that in the end it
breaks.
Tel est pris qui croyait It's the biter bit. He is taken who thought he
prendre. could take.
Tel qui rit vendredi dimanche Laugh on Friday, cry on He who laughs on Friday will
pleurera. Sunday. cry on Sunday.
Le temps, c'est de l'argent Time is money Time, that's money
Tous les goûts sont dans la It takes all kinds (to make a All tastes are in nature.
nature. world)
Tout est bien qui finit bien. All's well that ends well.
Tout vient à point à qui sait All things come to those who All comes on time to the one
attendre. wait. who knows how to wait.
Toute peine mérite salaire. The laborer is worthy of his All trouble taken deserves
hire. pay.
La vérité sort de la bouche Out of the mouths of babes. The truth comes out of the
des enfants. mouths of children.
Vouloir, c'est pouvoir. Where there's a will, there's a To want, that's to be able.
way.

French proverbs with animals French proverbs with people

More French expressions