Proverbs are short and pithy statements. They offer life advice, wisdom or a general truth. Proverbs are often so common that native speakers would use them in conversations without even realizing it. A proverb can be a shortcut in explaining something. They communicate an accepted message in a few well-worn and well-known words.
Illustrating a point to be made, proverbs are oftentimes metaphorical or symbolic in nature. Some proverbs can be reflective of a specific culture. However, the majority is widely embraced and quite often passed down through generations and generations. In fact, some of the earliest recorded proverbs date back to 2000 BC. Even to the ancient Sumerians who would write them on stone tablets.
A few examples:
- An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Chaque jour une pomme conserve son homme.
- Barking dogs seldom bite.
Chien qui aboie ne mord pas.
- As you make your bed, so you must lie.
Comme on fait son lit, on se couche.
- You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Ce n’est pas aux vieux singes qu’on apprend à faire des grimaces.
- When in doubt, leave it out.
Dans le doute, abstiens-toi.
A key element in learning a language and a culture is proverbs. It’s only when you’re able to use proverbs properly that you can really set yourself apart and be considered a professional or even a native speaker.
Set the bar a bit higher and become an expert in French with these common proverbs, you’ll amaze a few people along the way.