The inch and the yard

Harry Batt

Senior Member
USA English
By the inch it's a cinch--by the yard it's mighty hard

This is an AA suggestion to the newly sober who wants to change his/her lifestyle overnight. It is a suggestion to handle matters that can be easily managed, eg. take an ordinary job and climb the ladder rather than holding out for the supervisor post. Is there a French idiomatic or colloquial manner to say this?
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  • Guynouche

    Senior Member
    "un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l'auras"
    Is'nt this the translation for "one in the hand is worth two in the bush"...not exactly what Harry Batt had in mind?!


    Senior Member
    French - international
    "Prendre les choses une par une / comme elles viennent"
    "Ne pas mettre la charrue avant les bœufs"
    "Appliquer la politique des petits pas"
    Those are my first (not-so-good, I'm afraid) suggestions, I'll come back if I can come up with something better, but maybe this can help a bit.


    The Prof

    Senior Member
    Building on one of Maarten's suggestions, and trying to find something 'catchy', how would 'la politique des petits pas: une seule chose à la fois´ sound to the French ear?

    I´m not suggesting it as translation of the English expression, just as something that might possibly help convey the meaning in French while still keeping something of the ´rythme´ of the original!
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    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I like it: 'la politique des petits pas: une seule chose à la fois

    The only French expression that I know which comes close to "cinch" is "C'est simple comme bonjour." Can that be combined with another common saying to express the "yard/hard" part?


    Senior Member
    Français, France
    Qui trop embrasse mal étreint ?
    (meaning don't try to grab too many things at once for you won't be able to hold them)

    Il ne faut pas confondre vitesse et précipitation ?
    (meaning if you do things too fast, you won't do anything worth)

    Edit: Wildan1's is good, ans so is a close variant:
    à chaque jour suffit sa peine
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    Uncle Bob

    Senior Member
    British English
    I tried:
    "Un peu, c'est fastoche,
    Beaucoup, c'est...mmmm"
    Moche? "Belledoche!", and the Pre-Neo-Franglais "le kibosh" is no good as it doesn't scan!

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Provence must be good for the English brain cells. Pickarooney has it, I believe. Par petits pas, bientôt tu l'as
    Par grandes enjambées, tu risques de tomber

    I like it because it is easy to recite, having a rhyming qulitiy
    pas/ la, enjambée/tomber

    Harry Batt


    Senior Member
    Français (Belgique)
    il ne faut pas courir deux lièvres à la fois
    which means one should not pursue too many objectives in the same time.
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