Practice Makes Perfect

The more you practice something, whether it's a language, an instrument or anything else, the better you get at it. This idea is neatly summerised in the idiom 'practice makes perfect' Here are some equivalents of that idiom in other languages.

The English version 'practice makes perfect' first appeared in writing in the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams in 1766. Before then other versions were used (see below).

Language Practice Makes Perfect
Afrikaans Oefening maak perfek ("practice makes perfect")
Benglai গাইতে গাইতে গায়েন, বাজাতে বাজাতে বায়েন। (Gāite gāite gāyen, bājāte bājāte bāyen) ("sing, sing, play, play" - if you keep practicing singing, you will become a singer and if you keep practicing playing (a musical instrument), you will become a player")
Catalan La pràctica fa la perfecció ("practice makes perfect")
Chinese (Mandarin) 熟能生巧 (shú néng shēng qiǎo) ("practice gives birth to skill")
[origins of this idiom]
Czech Cvičení dělá mistra ("practice makes a master")
Danish Øvelse gør mester ("practice makes a master")
Dutch Oefening baart kunst ("practice gives birth to art")
English Uor wone maketh (1340)
For use maketh mastery (c. 1530)
Vse makes maistry (1546)
practise made perfect (1560)
vse makes perfectnes (1599)
Practice makes perfect (1766) [source]
Esperanto Praktiko perfektigas ("practice makes perfect")
Filipino Kapag may tiyaga, may nilaga ("when there is perseverance, there is stew")
Finnish Harjoitus tekee mestarin ("practice makes a master")
French C'est en forgeant qu'on devient forgeron ("it is by forging that one becomes a blacksmith")
C'est en se mouchant qu'on devient moucheron ("it is by blowing one's nose that you become a gnat/midge")
German Übung macht den Meister ("practice makes the master")
Icelandic Æfingin skapar meistarann ("practice makes the master")
Irish Cleachtadh a dhéanann maistreacht ("practice makes mastery")
Indonesian Latihan membuat sempurna ("practice makes perfect")
Alah bisa karena biasa ("We can do it well because we usually do it")
Italian La pratica rende perfetti ("practice makes perfect")
Japanese 習うより慣れよ (narau yori nareyo) ("from learning one becomes skilled")
Latin Uses promptos facit ("use makes perfect")
Low Saxon Doon dööt/deit leren ("Doing does teach")
Luxembourgish Praxis mécht perfekt ("practice makes perfect")
Norwegian Øvelse gjør mester ("practice makes a master")
Polish Praktyka czyni mistrza ("practice makes a master")
Russian Навык мастера ставит (Nabyk mastera stavit) ("skill makes mastery")
Spanish La práctica hace al maestro ("practice makes the master")
Swedish Övning ger färdighet ("practice makes skill / proficiency / competence")
Portuguese A prática leva à perfeição ("practice leads to perfection")
Vietnamese Có công mài sắt có ngày nên kim ("if you keep grinding the iron, one day you'll make a needle")
Welsh Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg ("persevere and the stone will break")

Information provided by Jacob Overgaard Madsen, Nguyễn Việt, Huy Ngo, Arne Milas, Toni Marc'h, Aamm Medmur, Royce Giovano Sutikno, Jyri Anttila, Omer Beer, Ujjwal Mandal, Rodien Perillo Feranco

If you would like to make any corrections or additions to this page, or if you can provide recordings, please contact me.


More idioms

It's all Greek to me | It's raining cats and dogs | As easy as falling off a log | A sandwich short of a picnic | It's small world | When pigs fly | Out of sight, out of mind | Crystal-clear | Practice makes perfect

Idioms in individual languages

Czech | French | Greek | Icelandic | Russian | Slovak | Spanish | Swedish | Welsh

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