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Did I translate this correctly?

I'm about 1/3 through my German learning on Duolingo and for fun I translated the phrase "You can't have your cake and eat it too". Did I do it right?

Sie dürfen nicht ihren Kuchen haben und es auch essen!

edit: I'm asking if my grammar is correct, not if you'd say that in conversation.

July 2, 2012



It doesn't make a lot of sense in English, either. :) But the German proverb above is not the equivalent, that is equal to English proverb "You can't have everything." The cake proverb in English is more subtle, it means "you should choose between two mutually conflicting courses of action" -- it usually refers to choosing to be loyal to someone or some ideal as opposed to exploiting the situation for personal gain. If you're married, you shouldn't also cruise the bars looking to hookup. If you run for mayor, you shouldn't at the same time cheat the city out of taxes. If you own a vegan restaurant, you shouldn't use the freezer there to store the venison you shot last fall.

If German doesn't have such a proverb, maybe someone should invent one.


No, this is an idiom. It doesn't make any sense if you translate it literally. The German equivalent is "Man kann nicht alles (zugleich) haben".


In addtion to what christian said, 'Kuchen' is masculine in German: 'Sie dürfen ihn essen' (not 'es').


@joycemelton: it means "you should choose between two mutually conflicting courses of action" -> "Man kann nicht alles zugleich haben." does have the same connotation. However, when it comes to loyalty or moral ideals, this may be a better translation: "Man kann nicht auf zwei Hochzeiten (gleichzeitig) tanzen."


@Christian. Yeah, that's a good one and also has the flavor of the Biblical, "No man can serve two masters." I think that's stronger and clearer than the English one about cake and almost as funny.

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