Avere il pane ma non i denti

Hello,

Chi ha il pane non ha i denti


We use this saying to mean that those who have something we'd want to have (bread) don't know how use it or don't have the chance to take advantage of it (they don't have the teeth to chew it).

Is there anything similar in English?

Cheers
 
  • You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Paul, the closest I can think of is To have the means but not the know-how.
    A person who has plenty of money with no taste is an example of someone who has the means but lacks the know-how.
     

    hollanj

    New Member
    English- Australian
    Si ma per un'espressione idiomatica penso che 'to have your cake and eat it too' sarebbe meglio.
    It describes that you can have something but it is a question of whether you can actually use it, penso che vada bene con il tuo detto italiano perche tutti e due descrivono il cibo.
     
    Si ma per un'espressione idiomatica penso che 'to have your cake and eat it too' sarebbe meglio.
    It describes that you can have something but it is a question of whether you can actually use it, penso che vada bene con il tuo detto italiano perche tutti e due descrivono il cibo.
    Thanks, but I believe the meaning here is slightly different.

    Let's think about a harem: dozens of beautiful women looked after by some eunuchs.
    We'd say that those eunuchs "hanno il pane ma non hanno i denti" that is they have many women at their disposal but, alas, they can't take advantage of it ( no need to explain why :D )
     

    miri

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Si ma per un'espressione idiomatica penso che 'to have your cake and eat it too' sarebbe meglio.
    It describes that you can have something but it is a question of whether you can actually use it, penso che vada bene con il tuo detto italiano perche tutti e due descrivono il cibo.

    I thought that "have your cake and eat it" was like "avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca". Doesn't it mean that you can't have two things that are incompatible at the same time?
    It is different from "having something but being unable to use it" and "having the means but not the opportunity to do something" (avere il pane, ma non i denti; avere i denti, ma non il pane).
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Actually, Charles' example works for both scenarios.

    Money and the other.

    Money: He's got the means without the know-how.
    The other: He's got the know-how but not the means.

    AngelEyes
     

    hollanj

    New Member
    English- Australian
    Well yeh if you say "you can't have your cake and it it too" poi vorrebbe dire 'avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca" ma altrimenti forse va bene...come si vede quelli che pensano di sapere la propria lingua non hanno ragione tutto il tempo
    Non penso che c'e' un detto cosi bene in inglese..purtoppo

    In the case of the girls and the eunuchs you would probably have to say something that isn't really a saying
    You can't use what you've got, or sarcastically that they are "so close but yet so far"....sta un problema..spero che ci sia una persona con un'idea meglio
     
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    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I really don't think we have a saying for this, but the English imetaphor "to cast pearl before swine" has just occurred to me, the meaning being that ignorant pigs have no idea what may be done with a costly and beautiful pearl that lies before them. But this only covers half the idea.
    Voltaire's remark, "If only youth knew how to; if only old age were able to", gets close to it (though it sounds much better in French).
     
    I really don't think we have a saying for this, but the English imetaphor "to cast pearl before swine" has just occurred to me, the meaning being that pigs have no idea what may be done with a costly and beautiful pearl that lies before them. But this only covers half the idea.
    Voltaire's remark, "If only youth knew how to; if only old age were able to", gets close to it (though it sounds much better in French).

    We have the same saying too:

    Dare perle ai porci

    but the meaning is not exactly the same as "avere il pane ma non i denti".
     
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    millivanilli

    New Member
    English
    Hi Paul,

    I've been thinking about this one all day because it's a good one. I'm really can't think of an idiom. I totally understand the sense of the Italian and I think in this scenario we would just say "you can't have it all" or "you can never have it all".

    "To have your cake and eat it" is different for me because for me that means somebody wants it all but doesn't necessarily have it - yet. The phrase Charles has mentioned is also good - I would say "money doesn't buy taste" but it's not equivalent to "avere il pane ma non i denti".

    If or when I think of a good idiom I will let you know - there must be one.

    Milly
     

    Tristano

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Well yeh if you say "you can't have your cake and it it too" poi vorrebbe dire 'avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca" ma altrimenti forse va bene...come si vede quelli che pensano di sapere la propria lingua non hanno ragione tutto il tempo
    Non penso che c'e' un detto cosi bene in inglese..purtoppo

    In the case of the girls and the eunuchs you would probably have to say something that isn't really a saying
    You can't use what you've got, or sarcastically that they are "so close but yet so far"....sta un problema..spero che ci sia una persona con un'idea meglio

    I believe it is:

    You can't use what you haven't got.

    Tristano
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    wee dash of irony that makes a difference. PaulfromItaly
    Fot those that missed it, there is a pun (gioco di parole) here : wee is slang for urine, as well as Sots dialect for small.

    You can't have your cake and eat it really has nothing to do with this thread and refers to a choice between two desirable but mutually exclusive possibilities, e.g. to spend an inheritance on wine, women and song, or to pay your way through university with it.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Well, now I'm curious, Paul.

    Did you not like this variation? Does it not translate compatibly with the Italian one?

    Money: He's got the means without the know-how.
    The other: He's got the know-how but not the means.



    I think my problem with all this is that this one below works for the sexual one, but in AE we wouldn't necessarily use it for the financial one. We'd probably go for Charles' suggestion.

    My twisted brain does like it, though...

    'Small dog, tall weeds'

    AngelEyes
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Okay. :D

    The doggy one is funny.

    But the other one works, too. It's just more subtle. Thank you.

    AngelEyes


    It's hard to beat a good pee-pee joke.
     

    sdon

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Io oggi ho usato la stessa espressione ma con un altro siginificato ossia "questo argomento è pane per i vostri denti" ossia vi darà il filo da torcere. Come si potrebbe tradurre??!!

    "This subject is very tough"?!!
     

    Janey UK

    Senior Member
    Native speaker of British English
    In the English West Midlands where my parents live I've occasionally heard people say:

    "He's got a spoon, but no gravy."

    Which sounds like an English equivalent of Paul's expression.

    However, in 26 years of living in Norfolk I've never heard it said here, so it may just be a regional thing.

    Nationally, we also use the expression "youth is wasted on the young" which expresses a similar meaning, i.e. that young people have youth but are too experienced to know how to enjoy and appreciate it...
     

    Silvia

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Actually, the Italian saying is:
    Chi ha il pane non ha i denti e chi ha i denti non ha il pane

    Some might translate it as:
    They have most bread who have least teeth

    But I'm not sure how many English speakers would use such an expression.

    The closest thing I can think of to convey a similar meaning is:
    non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco
    that is
    things can't be expected to turn out right everytime

    That would work with almost anything, including the previous examples.

    'Jack works in Manhattan but he doesn't live there, he lives in New Jersey. I live in Manhattan and I have to work in New Jersey...'

    Il senso ultimo della frase è: la giustizia non è di questo mondo...

    Maybe this will ring a bell.
     
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