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The French saying "Bon à tout bon à rien"

Get prepared to learn everything you want to know about the basic saying "Bon à tout, bon à rien". To be more precise, it includes a detailed guide of what it is and how to use it in everyday life with an audio example. Plus, we also added some useful informations like dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio, synonym and more!

Translation in English

  • Translation : Jack of all trades, master of none

  • Literal meaning : Good at everything, good at nothing

  • Register : Informal - Basic

How to pronounce it



  • IPA : / bɔ̃ a tu, bɔ̃n- a ʁjɛ̃. /

aesthetic french quote bon tout bon rien

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What does it mean exactly?


This is a two part proverb: "Bon à tout" means "Good at everything" and "Bon à rien" means "Good at nothing". Sounds like a paradox, right?

Well, yes, and that's why it is so interesting.

In fact, the whole interest of this proverb comes from the human dilemma of choosing specialization vs. choosing diversification. We tend to think that with dedication it is possible to become very good at everything, but most of the time this is just an illusion.

If we want to achieve greatness and excellence, we have to restrict our focus on a very limited amount of activities/topics.

How to use it

That's why this proverb is such a powerful reminder, saying more or less: "If you think you are good at everything, then you are certainly not mastering any of those things. But that's ok, nobody does."

Then, you can keep these words of wisdom in mind as a reminder to not spread yourself too thin.

But you can also use it during a conversation, for example: with someone talking about running many projects simultaneously. Or with someone who brags about being a master in many things/everything.

In both cases, the answer is simple: "Bon à tout, bon à rien". You can also add "Attention" before saying "Be careful".


Generally, we use the masculine gender, which is also used when the gender is undefined. But if you are talking about a woman, the feminine gender would be: "Bonne à tout, bonne à rien".

↓ Example in a story with English translation ↓

Finally, let's see an example in a parallel story with slow audio.

Besoin d'un plombier ?

Need a plumber?

OliviaTu as réussi à réparer le robinet ?
Did you manage to fix the faucet?
ThéoNon, je n'y arrive pas. Il faut appeler un plombier.
No, I can't. We need to call a plumber.
OliviaJe parie que ton frère pourrait le faire très facilement.
I bet your brother could do it very easily.
ThéoPourquoi tu parles de mon frère ?
Why are you talking about my brother?
OliviaParce que je pense qu'il peut tout réparer.
Because I think he can fix everything.
ThéoTu te trompes ! Comme on dit : "Bon à tout, bon à rien".
You're wrong! As we say: "Jack of all trades, master of none".
OliviaAlors pourquoi c'est lui qui a réparé les toilettes ? Et le lit ? Et mon vélo ?
So why was he the one who fixed the toilet? And the bed? And my bike?


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