A literal, simplistic translation, would be l'autre coté du coin.

But my experience with idioms is that this is likely to be wrong, because most of them DON'T translate word for word from one language to another.

So is this the correct translation? If not (more likely), what is?

  • 5
    « coin » c'est « pièce (de monnaie) », peut-être parfois aussi « jeton ». Aug 24 '11 at 13:35
  • Dans la direction de ce que suggère @M'vy: "d'un autre coté" ("on the other hand") est peut–être le plus proche idiome (bien moins imagé, il est vrai)...
    – Dave
    Aug 25 '11 at 0:08

Being a parent is such a huge responsibility, but the other side of the coin is that it is one of the most exciting and enjoyable things you can do.

example from http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/the+other+side+of+the+coin

This would be translated like

Être parent est une grande responsabilité, mais d'un autre côté c'est aussi l'une des choses les plus excitante qui soit [que l'on puisse faire].

So in this example "le revers de la médaille" won't be appropriate since it is used to describe an unpleasant situation.

Nous avons découvert une nouvelle technologie, mais le revers de la médaille est qu'elle consomme des quantités incroyable d'énergie.

If the situation is pleasant you can use "du bon côté des choses ...", "le côté positif de la chose", "l'avantage est que..." and if it is unpleasant "le désavantage étant...", "le côté négatif".

  • Isn't "d'un autre côté" something like "on the other hand"?
    – Alenanno
    Aug 24 '11 at 14:26
  • 1
    Yes, especially if you have coin-sized hand. On the other hand, D'un autre côté, vous avez cinq autres doigts fails miserably at being funny.
    – Joubarc
    Aug 24 '11 at 14:32
  • 1
    Je propose que, quand on parle d'une meilleure alternative, on utilise l'expression l'avers de la médaille. Paf.
    – Joubarc
    Aug 24 '11 at 16:26

A real litteral translation would be "l'autre côté de la pièce de monnaie", but nobody (except an literal automatic translator) will understand it ;)

The most likely translation for this seems to be "le revers de la médaille"

(divers exemples par ici)

  • Close to, but not exactly the "literal" translation. Thanks.
    – Tom Au
    Aug 24 '11 at 13:49
  • 4
    Surely you didn't want the literal translation, did you?
    – Joubarc
    Aug 24 '11 at 13:56
  • @Joubarc: Not "usually," no. But occasionally it's the correct one. I was a bit surprised that this answer was so close.
    – Tom Au
    Aug 24 '11 at 14:28
  • Idioms usually are 90% not possible to be translated literally... It can happen if the languages have similar roots or are close to each other.
    – Alenanno
    Aug 24 '11 at 17:07
  • 4
    "revers de la médaille", while tempting, means exactly the opposite of "other side of the coin"...
    – Dave
    Aug 25 '11 at 0:07

One common paraphrasing of this idiom I've seen is "en revanche", which basically means "on the other hand".


Sometime, we use « le côté positif »
To reuse the above example :

Être parent est une grande responsabilité, mais son côté positif est que c'est l'une des choses les plus excitante qui soit.

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