5

In order to recommend to someone something you think is a good idea, 'You could do worse than' is said like an understatement. It's like saying, 'Why don't you at least do something, there are a lot of worse options than that, after all'.

Having looked everywhere, I couldn't find any previous discussion anywhere discussing the French phrase equal to this one. I would like to say a thing like below. What is a natural French phrase for 'You could do worse than' in the bulleted sentences?


(Since I was little, he has told me a lot of fascinating stories of when he visited many foreign countries as an airline pilot.)

  • 'So that was more than enough to make me want to become a pilot. You could do worse than try to be like him, you too.'
5

The closest translation I could come with would be:

il y a pire (que lui) comme modèle/example (après tout)

"Worse" translates pretty well to "pire" while the whole idea of "trying to be like someone" is conveyed by the word "modèle" or "example"

Note that this doesn't fully answer the question because depending on what comes after "than", so depending on the context, the formulation in French might vary.

3

The first phrasing that came to mind was:

Il ne m'en fallait donc pas plus pour avoir envie d'en faire une carrière. Ce ne serait pas une mauvaise idée que de prendre modèle sur lui, toi aussi.

The expression "could do worse" is an example of litotes, so a French equivalent should ideally take a negative structure.

I can't put my finger on what, exactly, but I'm not 100 per cent satisfied with my suggestion. I'll leave the rest to native French speakers.

1

On pourrait faire pire que.. You is too direct in this case

-2

A translation below; there is a problem however.

(Depuis mon enfance il m'a raconté de nombreuses histoires fascinantes qu'il rapportait des escales qu'il faisait en tant que pilote de ligne dans de nombreux pays étrangers. Cela m'a vite donné l'idée de devenir pilote moi-même; il y a bien moins grand que son idéal de pilote.

The use of "You" in "You could…" is an "impersonnal use", it means anyone, somebody in general; then in the same sentence there is a switch to a different type of use of "you"; in the phrase "you too" you can't have this use of "you", that is the "you" meaning "somebody in general" and so I have omitted that part that is not correct; maybe something else was meant but I can't guess.

From the point of view that the person is talking to someone and not just relating his or her thoughts the following modification makes things right. (I get that point of view from an answer but it is not put clearly in your text, there is nothing to tell the reader that the writer is addressing someone.)

(Depuis mon enfance il m'a raconté de nombreuses histoires fascinantes qu'il rapportait des escales qu'il faisait en tant que pilote de ligne dans de nombreux pays étrangers. Cela m'a vite donné l'idée de devenir pilote moi-même; il y a de bien moins grand idéaux que le sien, vous savez ? Vous aussi, vous pourriez suivre sa voie.

  • May I ask what you mean by "You could…" is an "impersonnal use"? "You" is a person I'm talking to, not someone else in general. The explanation that "you" in 'you could do worse than' must be impersonal or general is something that I haven't heard before. – Elen1x Sep 6 '18 at 17:02
  • @Elen1x Forget about it, I understand now that this "you" is someone the person writing is talking to; the "You" I' m talking about is that pronoun that refers to nobody in particular, just as when someone says "One has to be fast to run faster than a horse." you can say "You have to be fast to run as fast as a horse." Do you understand now? Anyway, I have an unchanging impression that your sentence is flawed: the "you too" at the end just doesn't seem to add up; see what you think about it. By the way don' take the term "impersonal" as the technical term, it's just a term I use. – LPH Sep 6 '18 at 17:12
  • "il y a bien moins grand que son idéal de pilote" and "il y a de bien moins grand idéaux que le sien". What you offer as translations of "You could do worse than", I'm sorry to say that nobody says these... This is not proper French... – user17522 Sep 6 '18 at 18:24
  • @17522 when you say "You could do worse" you mean that there are jobs that are far from being as interesting or in other words that there are jobs that are far from being as ideal; therefore you can tranplant the point onto another way of considering things, that of personal ideals; an example of mine as far as showing you do say that in French: Son idéal avait été d'être un chanteur, mais il n'a pas réussi. Here is an exemple out of the dictionary (TLFi): mon idéal serait un vieux château patriarcal. You can say that in French. – LPH Sep 6 '18 at 18:37
  • 3
    Les batailles d'égo n'ont rien à faire ici... Le but est d'aider l'OP et le système de commentaire ou de up/down vote sont là pour améliorer les réponses et filtrer celles manifestement mauvaises. Ceci ne peut se faire qu'avec des remarques constructives et une volonté collective de produire du contenu de qualité. Je ne suis pas modérateur mais votre querelle me déplaît car elle n'est pas du tout dans l'esprit de SE – Laurent S. Sep 7 '18 at 8:11

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