Un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras

Un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l'auras
Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

French Proverb

Meaning a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
Literally one held is better than two you will have
Register normal
Pronunciation
  [oo(n) tyeh(n) vo myeu keu deu tu lo rah]
IPA [œ̃ tɛ̃ vo mjø kə dø ty lo ra]

Usage notes: The difficulty in the French proverb un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras is that it combines unintuitive grammar with a lack of clarifying punctuation. Grammatically speaking, tiens is not a noun, but rather a verb: the tu conjugation of tenir (to hold). This verb form is "nouned" here, making it a sort of shortcut to quelque chose que tu tiens.

The second clause is also odd. While tu l’auras obviously means "you will have it," the number deux in front indicates that this phrase too is nouned.

So the easiest way to understand the proverb is to mentally add quotation marks: Un « tiens » vaut mieux que deux « tu l’auras », meaning "One ‘have’ is better than two ‘you will haves,’ " which corresponds nicely with "A bird in the hand (one ‘have’) is worth two in the bush (two ‘you will haves’)."

Par exemple…

– J’aime mon copain Éric, mais je suis fascinée par Christophe.   – I love my boyfriend Éric, but I’m fascinated by Christophe.
–  Un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras !   – A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!
(you’ve got a good thing going; don’t risk losing it over some unknown guy.)

Variation: un bon tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras

Synonymous expressions

  • Il ne faut pas quitter le certain pour l’incertain
  • Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien
  • Mieux vaut tenir que courir
  • Une truite dans la marmite vaut plus que deux saumons dans la rivière

 Related lessons

Stay up to date with Lawless French!
Twitter Facebook Quora Instagram Pinterest YouTube RSS Newsletter
Quora

Any Questions?

 Get help on the forum.
  
 

More Lawless French

 Subscribe to my twice-weekly newsletter.
       

Support Lawless French

  This free website is created with love and a great deal of work.

If you love it, please consider making a one-time or monthly donation.

Your support is entirely optional but tremendously appreciated.