Please imagine a situation that a person goes too far in doing something and in another task they son't put enough effort!

Or a cook who's making a food and salts a it too much, and the other food that he is preparing is saltless!

Or someone who respects you too much and the other time he / she disrespects you in public and so many other similar situations.

In my language there is a proverbial sentence which can be applicable to all these cases and ao many other scenarios in which a person is experiencing a very high and a very low stand confronting another person/situation! We say: (literal translation)

  • Not that salty, not this saltless.

In some translation pages the only sentences I found about this meaning are:

  • Enough is as good as a feast.
  • Too much spoil, too little doesn't satisfy.

But, I'm sure they are not how a native would convey the same message through. So please let me know how shall I imply this meaning in a natural way?


1 Answer 1


One way is to reference the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which most English speakers know from childhood:

Not too hot, not too cold. Just right.

There's also a quote from Shakespeare's famous play "Hamlet" that is meant literally but can be used metaphorically as a warning against extremes:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

"Enough is as good as a feast" only implies this in one direction, as a warning against greed or gluttony, but not against eating too little.

"Too much spoils; too little doesn't satisfy" is, I think, a translation of a Chinese proverb and not actually an English proverb. This seems to relate more to the saying:

Neither one thing nor the other

which implies the object is not really good for anything. There is a similar Japanese proverb:

Obi ni mijikashi, tasuki ni nagashi = "too short for a sash (to wrap around the waist of a kimino); too long for a cord (to tie up a kimono's sleeves)".

The English version might be:

Too long for a belt; too short for a bootlace.

  • Thank you @Andrew; I read the story you linked above, but I couldn't get the relation between what I was looking for and the story! :(
    – A-friend
    Apr 28, 2019 at 6:21
  • Unfortunately, I couldn't find any web-page interpreting the proverbial sentence: "Too long for a belt; too short for a bootlace" @Andrew.
    – A-friend
    Apr 28, 2019 at 6:28
  • How shall I use the term "Goldilocks" here? I have to say: "This is the same as the Goldilocks story; which you know that..." or I have to say just: "neigher too hot, nor too cold; just right" and keep the name of the story for myself as a source of this sayng? Which variant is the one I have to know @Andrew?
    – A-friend
    Apr 28, 2019 at 6:45

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