Ça a peu de chances de réussir.

Ça a peu de chances de réussir.

sah ah puhd shahss duh ray-ew-SEER. Click below to hear this. 

It’s a long shot.

That’s a lot of French words for such a short expression in English! Here’s what the French says, when translated literally: That has few chances of succeeding.

You can shoot all you want at the deer (rabbit, tin can on a stump), but if you’re too far away for the gun in your hand, you won’t be able to hit the target. It’s a long shot. In fact, even if your weapon is a camera instead of a gun, without a telephoto lens, the camera will never see the shot the way your eyes do. Unless you are as nearsighted as I am, in which case you will never see it until it punches you in the nose.

That much is clear. The real trouble comes with the concept of “few”–in both French and English. What’s the difference between few and a few? To begin with, few is fewer then a few. If I have a few apples, it is a neutral way of saying that I have some. If I have few apples, I have not very many. The emphasis is on how small the number is; there may not be enough apples to go around.

In French, the same thing happens. If I have quelques pommes, I have some or a few apples. If I have peu de pommes, I have not very many apples. Again, the emphasis is on the small number.

Note that in French you can’t say that you have un peu de pommes. That’s because apple is a “count noun”, a thing that can be counted, but un peu de must be used with a “mass noun”, something that cannot be counted: un peu de neige, for example (a little snow). You can’t count the snowflakes!

So, in the same way, if you think your project has a fighting chance of succeeding, you would say: Ça a quelques chances de réussir. I wish you well.

Alternate audio file link: ca-a-peu-de-chances-de-reussir

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