In my native language, we have a proverb that its word-by-word translation is:

They sowed 'if' (as if it was seeds and they had sowed it in the ground), but it didn't grow.

It means, make sure that you've arranged and prepared everything to make something happen and don't wait and wish that everything would go well if something else happens. In other words, never say,"everything will be fine, just if something else happens".



A: Hey John, do you think you can pass the test?

B: Yea, I've read first three chapters. If just 70% of the questions are from these chapters, I'll be fine.

A: (They sowed if, but it didn't grow)


A: I want my money back.

B: If I harverst good crops this year, I'll pay you.

A: (They sowed if, but it didn't grow). I want my money back right now.

What can I put within brackets?


  • 1
    There is the saying "You reap what you sow" but that is more about if you behave badly you will suffer the consequences.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 6, 2016 at 18:48
  • 1
    In general, you need a proverb with the meaning "chance is a precarious thing to rely upon" or "relying on luck guarantees nothing". There must be proverbs in English with that message, but somehow I can't remember them. The proverb I posted I found by using a Russo-English dictionary. Mar 6, 2016 at 19:02

2 Answers 2


I found this one, but it might be a bit antique:

If ifs and ands were pots and pans there'd be no work for tinkers.

If ifs and ands were pots and pans, there'd be no work for tinkers' hands.

Traditional response to an over-optimistic conditional expression, in which ands is the plural form of and = ‘if’. The saying is recorded from the mid 19th century. (Oxford Dictionary)

Per ColleenV's comment, the source is the nursery rhyme "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride"

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,
If turnips were watches, I'd wear one by my side,
If Ifs and Ands were pots and pans,
There'd be no work for tinkers' hands.

P.S. I found a Russian proverb:

Аво́сь да как-нибу́дь до добра́ не доведу́т.
Transliteration: Avos' da kak-nubud' do dobra ne dovedut.
Translation: Maybe and somehow won't make any good.

P.P.S. From Oxford Treasury of Sayings and Quotations, by Susan Ratcliffe:

  • Don't bargain for fish that are still in the water.
  • Don't sell the skin till you have caught the bear.
  • 2
    I wasn't familiar with that one, but it made me think of "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." It turns out that they are from the same source
    – ColleenV
    Mar 6, 2016 at 18:40
  • 1
    I'm not a native speaker of English but I think what CowperKettle mentioned is what I meant. Thanks 😊
    – Yuri
    Mar 6, 2016 at 19:02

The first proverb came to my mind is:

don't count your chickens before they hatch

you should not make ​plans that ​depend on something good ​happening before you ​know that it has ​actually ​happened:
She ​wanted to ​buy a ​dress in ​case someone ​asked her to the ​dance, but I told her not to count her ​chickens before they ​hatched.
(Source: the Cambridge English Dictionary)

In my opinion, you can use it in either of the example scenarios in your question.

  • 1
    Actually we have a proverb which exactly means what you said. It's "count your chicks at the end of fall". We say this because hens naturally tend to sit on eggs at the end of summer and also when chicks are hatched they die more often in fall than any other season, so count them at the end of fall and decide if you want to celebrate it or sulk about it. ☺
    – Yuri
    Mar 6, 2016 at 21:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .