Talking about an English grammar book to some French friends I wanted to say something like

Use this book and soon you will be making leaps and bounds.

In fact I have seen the expression in this excellent book for beginners of French language.

enter image description here

Regarding the idiom:

This idiom (i.e. leaps and bounds) means that progress is made quickly in big strides, rather than slowly and steadily. It is often said with a hint of surprise, as if no one expected the progress to go so quickly or so far.

The phrase implies that perhaps the normal steps of progression were sidestepped, and the growth instead leaped over certain stages and moved ahead more quickly than normal.

Reference: https://writingexplained.org/idiom-dictionary/leaps-and-bounds

Are there any colloquial expressions to express similar ideas in French?

I thought that the one-to-one translation

Utilisez ce livre et bientôt vous ferez des sauts et des bonds.

does not sound idiomatic so I instead say something like

Utilisez ce livre et bientôt vous progresserez considérablement

but I think the idea of the original expression is lost.


4 Answers 4


I think the closest thing to leaps and bounds for French would be : "À grands pas"

Utilisez ce livre et bientôt vous progresserez à grands pas

Literally means "with big steps" but it's often used to point out how fast things can progress

Science is making leaps and bounds

La science progresse à grands pas

EDIT : Fun fact, "grand pas" was also the translated term used for Neil Armstrong's famous first step quote on the moon

"Un petit pas pour l'homme, un grand pas pour l'humanité"

"One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind"

So "grand pas" can also mean "a big/giant leap" in progress


To me (not an native English speaker), "making leaps and bounds" conveys the idea of "how fast things can improve (if you follow the steps we recommend in the book)". It's similar to:

  1. "into high gear"
  2. "at great speed / at the speed of light / break-neck speed"
  3. "zooming ahead" (like in learning / teaching / researching is zooming ahead)

In addition to "vous progresserez à pas de géants", or to replace it, I'd say/use "vous apprendrez / progresserez à vitesse grand V". It means that you'll learn (much) fast(er).

  • 1
    Bienvenue sur French Language. Bravo pour la vitesse grand V. Il faut cependant préciser que c'est plutôt familier. On ne discute pas d'anglais ici mais si ça t'intéresse il y a ELL. (mais on peut répondre en anglais bien sûr !)
    – None
    Aug 8, 2019 at 14:56
  • I'm a little puzzled by "familier" (even though wiktionnaire says so too, I didn't know...), I thought of it in the sense of "l'Amour avec un grand A", where repeating the first letter emphasizes the notion. Need to edit to clarify or not?
    – user21442
    Aug 8, 2019 at 15:09

The notion of considérablement is indeed the right translation for this sentence. As we can see in these translations from linguee, we focus on the "big effect" side of the action.

enter image description here

If I wanted to translate this sentence in a Frenchie way, I would say :

  • Utilisez ce livre, et vous progresserez à pas de géants

This translation is more respectful of the literal side of the sentence.

Other ways to say it :

  • Utilisez ce livre, et vous deviendrez maître en la matière

  • Utilisez ce livre, et vous atteindrez des sommets

  • 2
    In your last two sentences, the problem with your solution is that it emphasises the result and not what matters as pertains to the phrase, that is, the manner in which this result is attained.
    – LPH
    Aug 8, 2019 at 12:59
  • 2
    "à pas de géants", feels like the most natural way. Aug 9, 2019 at 7:11

You misread your reference: the idiom is not "leaps and bounds" but "by leaps and bounds".

The idiom, "by leaps and bounds", has been traditionally used as a complement for verbs : "to do something by leaps and bounds"; "to make leaps and bounds" is a distortion of the original expression that has come into being recently and it might not be found acceptable by all. It sounds very awkward to me.

A standard English formulation would be

  • Use this step by step book and you'll soon be progressing by leaps and bounds.

In French you do not say anything if you use a literal translation. "Vous ferez des sauts et des bonds." has no figurative meaning. Nevertheless, the traditionnal expression has a literal translation and you can say

"faire des progrès/avancer/progresser/aller de l'avant/… par sauts et par bonds". (this is to be found in the Harrap's dictionary)

So, because of the proximity one might easily guess what you mean if you say "faire des sauts et des bonds".

Your last sentence is then perfectly acceptable in French and as you'd wish to have it if you just change "considérablement" into the translation of the true idiom;

  • Utilisez ce livre et bientôt vous progresserez par sauts et pas bonds.

The sentences shown here are reverso confirm this usage. This appears to be a recent acception, as there is another mentioned by the TLFi and that is the one found in the older litterature;

  1. Au fig. a) Élan imprévu et isolé. Procéder par bonds, n'aller que par sauts et par bonds
  • 2
    This answer starts with a pointless nitpick about the English idiom then suggests a very poor translation.
    – jlliagre
    Aug 8, 2019 at 13:34
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Aug 8, 2019 at 14:24
  • 1
    I've seen quite many bad translations in my life. And even sometimes by translators. Starting from "le Général Staff" to very recently "règle directe" used by a journalist speaking about Irish Home Rule. So a few unverified sentences given by people who just "want to be there" will never convince me.
    – None
    Aug 8, 2019 at 14:33
  • 1
    The sentences given by Reverso are submitted to users' expertise. It is by no way always reliable, some are good, some are bad. Quant au TLF c'est bien ce que je disais (« Cela se dit aussi en parlant des Actions, de la conduite, lorsqu'elles sont précipitées et qu'elles manquent de suite ». Tu dis « Élan imprévu et isolé. » Ce qui ne veut pas dire « à grands pas ! » (by leaps and bounds)
    – None
    Aug 8, 2019 at 14:42
  • @Laure Oui, je vois bien ça, il s'agit d'un usage figuré bien établi signifiant « sans régularité, en passant d'une chose à l'autre ». Il vaut mieux ne pas changer cela et en réalité, pour bien faire il ne faudrait pas tolérer le nouvel usage, qui tendra à brouiller la compréhension et ralentir l'assimilation.
    – LPH
    Aug 8, 2019 at 14:50

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