Does a native understand this

Go ahead leaf by leaf as in the book.

the same way a Croatian speaker would?

I translated Croatian in my head into English. In the Croatian it is said that a book has "leaves". In English it is said the book has "pages". By "Go ahead leaf by leaf as in the book" I wanted to say "Go ahead page by page as in the book". Will a native speaker understand my sentence as “Go ahead page by page as in the book”?

  • 4
    Do you mean 'Turn the pages one by one?' Actually, leaf can be used to mean page ,but it's rather old-fashioned and 'poetic'. We can speak of leafing through a book - see collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/leaf-through Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 17:43
  • 1
    We do actually read books page by page (not leaf by leaf), but native speakers wouldn't use either of those for your specific context. You'd be advised to do it step by step, as in the book. Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 17:44
  • @KateBunting yes, I mean that.
    – b2ok
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 18:06
  • 2
    @b2ok Is it a literal request ("please turn the pages of the book one at a time") or is it a metaphor ("proceed one step at a time")?
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 18:22
  • @rjpond it is literal request.
    – b2ok
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 18:31

3 Answers 3


Leaf is fine, it is slightly poetic, and technically each leaf has two pages printed on it (one on the front and one on the back) but we talk about a "loose-leaf folder" (the pages are not bound)

The grammar, especially the use of "as" is wrong. You would say

Go through the book leaf-by-leaf

But "Read page-by-page" is much more common and is the expression you should use. It is even more logical (you want to read both the front and the back of each leaf!)


A native speaker would most likely understand what you meant by "Go ahead leaf by leaf as in the book" - although the use of the word "as" might cause some puzzlement, but perhaps in the context it would be obvious what you meant. Still, it wouldn't be an idiomatic way to phrase things.

You should say "Turn the book's pages one by one", "Turn the book's pages one at a time", or "Turn the pages of the book one by one", "Turn the pages one by one" (it's unlikely it would be necessary to include the word "book" at all), etc.


The native speaker will understand. Depending on the context, it might sound overblown or poetic (as when a wise old person gives advice that is important to the hero of the narrative) but mostly it will just sound clumsy and ignorant of the usual idioms, e.g. one step at a time etc.

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