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These two phrases in English have a small difference in meaning:

  • (1e) That doesn't amount to anything.

  • (2e) That doesn't count for anything.

The first means literally, that there isn't anything there. The second means that what is there isn't worth anything.

There are also similar phrases with slightly different meanings:

  • (3e) That doesn't amount to much.
  • (4e) That doesn't count for much.

The first means that there is little there. The second means that what is there is of little value.

I would like to keep the meaning of each of these in translating to French. Here are my attempts:

  • (1f) Ça ne revient à rien.
  • (2f) Ça compte pour rien.

and then

  • (3f) Ça ne revient à trop.
  • (4f) Ça ne compte de trop.

I see in this thread that the question is about the English version of (4e), but the reply is the French (2f) is correct.

Since there is a distinction in the English, I would like to know how to capture that distinction in the French.

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1 Answer 1

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That's kind of a tough one here:

(1e) That doesn't amount to anything.

(2e) That doesn't count for anything.

(3e) That doesn't amount to much.

(4e) That doesn't count for much.

But the following is not stuff that are used (1) or even that has no sense at all (3) and (4), exception made for (2)… which has a totally different meaning.

(1f) Ça ne revient à rien.

(2f) Ça compte pour rien.

(3f) Ça ne revient à trop.

(4f) Ça ne compte de trop.

  • (2f) is usually used when making a heat up round in sports without counting the score… More generally, it means that whatever is being talked about, it was not taken into account.

  • (1f) is, as far as I can tell, only used in the term "…cela ne revient à rien de…" which can be translated as "…it amounts to nothing more than…" (cf linguee). I did not find other uses online other than that.

Basically, you can't translate the same subtleties from a language to another, so here's my take at translating those:

1f. ça ne servira à rien (extrapolated from linguee hints) ;
2f. qui ne compte pas ;
3f. ça ne fait pas grand chose ;
4f. cela importe peu.

Though don't take those literally, as they really depend on the context. I'm just trying to show you that you won't be able to give the same feeling of style between those idioms in French than in English.

N.B.: the thread you're linking is actually wrong, mistaking (4e) for (2f)…

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Merci. Il y a de quoi y réflechir maintenant. –  Jim Mar 18 at 1:28
    
I made an edit to my question and your answer, just to keep the English list items separate from the French list items. –  Jim Mar 18 at 16:42
    
Thank you for pointing me to the Linguee resource. That should be helpful for a lot of my questions. –  Jim Mar 18 at 18:43

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