Vendre la peau de l’ours (avant de l’avoir tué)

Vendre la peau de l'ours (avant de l'avoir tué)
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French Proverb

Meaning   to count one’s chickens (before they’re hatched)
Literally   to sell the bear’s skin (before killing it)
Register   normal
French pronunciation   [va(n) dr(eu) la po de lour sa va(n) deu la vwar tu ay]
IPA   [vã drə la po də lur sa vã də la vwaʁ tɥe]

Usage notes: The French proverb vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué is just as vivid and comprehensible as its English equivalent “to count one’s chickens before they’re hatched,” even though the literal meanings are completely different. In addition, they can both be shortened to just what you’re not supposed to do (il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l’ours – “don’t count your chickens”), with the second part (avant de l’avoir tué – “before they’re hatched”) implied.

I also find it interesting that the French proverb seems to be coming from a hunter’s point of view, while the English is more like what a farmer might say.

Par exemple…

On ne sait pas encore s’il va nous aider… il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué.   We don’t know if he’s going to help us yet… don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.
Je pense que l’entretien s’est bien passé, mais je ne vais pas vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué.   I think the interview went well, but I’m not going to count my chickens before they’re hatched.

 Grammatical note: The construction avoir tué is called the past infinitive.

 Related lessons

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Vendre la peau de l'ours avant de l'avoir tué

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