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One day you’re just a little girl, the next you’re getting ready to get married. I'm proud of the lovely young lady you've turned out to be.

=== It seems it was just yesterday that you were just a little girl.

How do French speakers handle this hyperbolic, colloquial device used to emphasise the lightning-fast passage of time? Technically, the past tense should be used in the first clause: "One day you were just a little girl". But the present tense serves to highlight the notion of "how time has flied".

When a situation has changed overnight, "du jour au lendemain" does come in handy, but I'm not sure if it's suitable for use in this structure. I wonder if "sans crier gare", on the other hand, is a bit too much?

  • The first answer that comes on my mind would be something like. La semaine dernière tu étais une petite fille et aujourd'hui tu te maries. That shows instantly how the time flies – Steeven Brunner Aug 23 '18 at 12:56
  • @SteevenBrunner So is the past tense inevitable for the first part, after all? :) – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 23 '18 at 13:00
  • Sorry I missread your question. You can also say "Un jour tu es une petite fille et le lendemain tu es prête à te marier". I find the one using the paste tense more intuitive. – Steeven Brunner Aug 23 '18 at 13:04
  • In conversation, "voilà" is likely to pop out of my mouth. What's your take on: "et le lendemain, te voilà prête à te marier"? @SteevenBrunner – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 23 '18 at 13:38
  • I'm not sure to understand your question, you want my opinion on the second part of the sentence ? – Steeven Brunner Aug 23 '18 at 13:55
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I suggest to use a construction based on

"hier encore...aujourd'hui"

as suggested in the comment, this can be further strengthened using "voilà"

Hier encore, tu étais une petite fille et voilà qu'aujourd'hui tu te maries. Comme le temps passe vite!

  • +1 for the “hier encore … aujourd’hui” combo. Would adding something like “On dirait qu’ hier encore tu étais …” or “J’ai l’impression qu’ hier encore tu étais … “ to your answer sound natural to a native speaker of French? Regardless, would adding something like one of those even be necessary to mark hyperbole (to avoid the possible interpretation that the bride was literally a little girl yesterday & therefore might be underage today) or does “hier encore … aujourd’hui” alone sufficiently imply the exaggeration in French (as does “one day …, the next” in English)? – Papa Poule Aug 23 '18 at 19:05
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    Such an addition makes for avoiding as much as possible spurious misinterprétation, I should agree; however it diminishes the importance of « hier » as it's not in the leading position and I think it more effective in the first position in its fonction of denoting an opposition. But the sentence can be modified further, and moreover the shorter the addition the better in the way of making for a more pungent antithesis : "Hier encore tu paraissait être une petite fille et aujourd'hui voilà que tu te maries. Comme le temps passe vite". – LPH Aug 24 '18 at 0:58

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