The French proverb "Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières"

We are going to teach you all the things you want to know about the inspirational French saying “Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières”.

It includes a full explanation of what it mean and how to use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. Along with the useful informations we added like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, synonym and more!

Oh and you will also find more of these sayings explained on this page plus the list of all our French words tutorials on this page. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

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French to English translation

Pronunciation guide

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean exactly?


  • Les petits ruisseaux → The little streams
  • Font → Make (Plural form of the verb “Faire“)
  • Les grandes rivières → The big rivers

What makes a river so huge and unstoppable? Thousands of tiny streams.

Most of them are invisible and seem unimportant, but it’s the sum of all these mini-streams that end up making such a powerful river.

And humans, just like streams, can’t become “big” out of nowhere: they can only slowly grow up to become the tenacious river they want to be.

This proverb teaches us that with patience and perseverance: everything is possible, no matter how hard the task. All we have to do is to start small and slowly make our way toward something much bigger.

How to use

This saying reminds us of being patient and to never give up on our dreams, and can also inspire and motivate people.

Let’s imagine you have a friend who thinks of quitting a commitment/project, afraid of the hard work to come, reminds him/her that “Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières“.

That just like the stream, with patience and dedication, he/she will become a river.


  • Petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid. (“Little by little the bird builds his nest“)
  • Goutte à goutte, l’eau creuse la pierre. (“Drop by drop, the water digs the stone“)
  • Rome n’a pas été construite en une seule journée. (“Rome wasn’t built in one day“)

Dialogue example with audio

Audio dialogue from French people

Dialogue audio

Dialogue script

” Je m’entraîne mais je ne sens aucun effet “
” I’m training but I don’t feel any effect “
” Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières. “
” The little streams make the big rivers. “
” Alors je vais être patient et continuer ! “
” Then I will be patient and keep going! “
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