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I did someone a favour the other day without expecting anything in return. Then she insisted on returning the favour somehow, so I asked her to do a little something for me.

I wonder if the following sounds idiomatic enough to express the idea of mutual back scratching?

Dans ce cas-là, voyons ça comme un échange de bons procédés !

I cannot seem to find a dictionary entry or a webpage that refers to this expression as a direct translation of the "you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours". So I'm not sure.

At any rate, I’m looking for an expression to denote a casual quid pro quo arrangement where you agree to scratch someone’s back so they scratch yours.

  • 1
    It's similar but way too formal for a direct translation. – Stéphane Gimenez Mar 6 '17 at 18:47
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    donnant-donnant... – GAM PUB Mar 7 '17 at 7:52
  • This might be helpful, but as a non-native (and very average) French speaker, I can't vouch for its accurateness: forum.wordreference.com/threads/… – Dog Lover Mar 7 '17 at 10:28
  • @GAMPUB J'ai pensé comme vous, puis ensuite quand j'ai regardé la définition au TLFi, on cite Ac. qu'on ne veut donner une chose qu'en recevant une autre chose, c'est-à-dire à condition de. Ça m'apparaît légèrement différent (et de mon usage et) d'une constatation qu'il y a eu échange de bons procédés ou un désir de procéder au pair. Et donc il y a aussi gagnant-gagnant mais ça semble davantage technique et moins usuel. Si vous avez une solution avec quelques explications, j'aimerais bien la lire. Merci ! – user3177 Mar 7 '17 at 17:12
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Échange de bons procédés is fine.

I would also suggest rendre la pareille or renvoyer l'ascenseur.

For "you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours" meaning "Do this, and we're even", I would say:

Fais ça et on sera quitte.

  • Hi. Essentially, what I want to say here is: "Do this, and we're even", or "Do this, and we consider it as {un échange de bons procédés}". How would you use those two expressions in this particular context? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Mar 6 '17 at 20:38
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    Not sure how to use the expressions I suggested with your sentence. I'd rather translate it : Fais ça et on sera quitte. – jlliagre Mar 6 '17 at 21:43

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