a piece is a piece

PA_System

Senior Member
Polish
Hi, I'm looking for a phrase which I heard in a film and which I need translated into English. The phrase literally translates as "a piece is a piece" but I don't reckon it's fully-fledged and natural in English. What it's supposed to mean is that if you remove one item and replace it with a different one, it should not bring about any problems because it's the number that counts and not its type.

The context: the film about two friends, one of whom is a soldier. Their names are Martin (the soldier) and Alex. Without getting into too much detail, Alex is supposed to help Martin break out of the barracks by surreptitiously replacing him. In order to achieve that they set up a scheme. To cut a long story short, Alex's face is covered with bandages, they manage to do the swap and in one of the subsequent scenes, some superior officers begin to remove the dressing. As they're about to finish doing it it becomes apparent that it's not Martin but Alex who is grinning widely thinking they had successfully duped the army. However, the officers don't seem to be bothered by the situation and treat Alex as though he were Martin telling him, "For us, a piece is a piece."

The phrase could also be used in the following situation. You're at a hotel where you know they will check the condition you leave the room in, and, say, you break something; a vase, for instance. You decide to replace the broken vase with a different one (say, you will buy one in town later). Most probably they will not notice the difference because... exactly, "a piece is a piece" so the total number of items in the room will check out.

Now, as I wrote before, I don't think the literal translation is a valid one so maybe you could help me come up with a phrase or expression that would fit in the given context(s)? :)
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I don't think we would use the same words in both situations. "One man is as good as another," perhaps, and "a vase is a vase."
     

    PA_System

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I see. I thought the idea might not be conveyed so succinctly in English since there may not be one universal phrase for it. :( I'd love to see what others have to say, though. :)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    That first one is quite adaptable.

    One man is as good as another.
    One vase is as good as another.
    One car is as good as another.

    Another similar saying might be, "If it works it works." (But it wouldn't fit that first example.)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top