I’d like to translate a quote from Pierre Reverdy (or Jean Cocteau, this is an open question apparently). The quote is:

Il n’y a pas d’amour, il n’y a que des preuves d’amour.

For some context in French, see Le Monde’s website.

I’m searching for a naturally sounding equivalent rather than an exact translation. If you’re not a French speaker or are still learning, the quote literally says:

There is no love, only proofs of love.

We often use it to mean that good intentions are nice, but that concrete action or money is nicer.

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    @RegDwigнt that appears to just a typo, since the version at dicocitations.lemonde.fr/citations/citation-10483.php has Il n'y a pas d'amour I have edited the question accordingly.
    – k1eran
    Nov 18, 2019 at 13:40
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    Eliza Doolittle just says, “Don't talk of stars Burning above; If you're in love, Show me!”
    – Jim
    Nov 19, 2019 at 3:03
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    Would be maybe better on the French Stackexchange?
    – Quidam
    Nov 21, 2019 at 5:32
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    All the answers here are interesting, but this quote is really about love, and that showing love in acts is more important than just saying "I love you". All the answers that paraphrase it without the "love" meaning are a bit off-topic.
    – Quidam
    Nov 21, 2019 at 5:40

8 Answers 8


The French proverb implies that the expression of love indicates the sole reality of love.

The proof is in the pudding


that the real worth, success, or effectiveness of something can only be determined by putting it to the test by trying or using it, appearances and promises aside—just as the best test of a pudding is to eat it.

(source: M-W)

--- edit ---

The old English proverb, "All the proofe of a pudding, is in the eating," has been clipped to the head-scratching "The proof is in the pudding."

The proverb has a fascinating etymology. I will quote some at length the Wiktionary entry.

This proverb dates back at least to the 14th century as "Jt is ywrite that euery thing Hymself sheweth in the tastyng", and William Camden stated it in 1605 in Remaines of a Greater Worke, Concerning Britaine as "All the proofe of a pudding, is in the eating", per Rogers' Dictionary of Cliche and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

A 1682 translation of Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux Le Lutrin (written between 1672 and 1674) renders it "The proof of th' pudding's seen i' the eating."

The current phrasing is generally attributed to the 1701 translation by Peter Anthony Motteux of a proverb Miguel de Cervantes used in Don Quixote (1615),[4] al freír de los huevos lo verá (“you will see it when you fry the eggs”).

The shorter form the proof is in the pudding, which is found in an 1867 issue of the British Farmer's Magazine, and came into common use in the United States in the 1950s, is becoming increasingly common, despite missing the point of the original meaning.

--- end edit ---

Popular culture

To keep the context in realm of l'amour, there is a parallel thought in Lerner & Lowe's Show me, from My Fair Lady.

I rather like the first line quoted (by Eliza, who is sick of Freddy's romantic words).

Don't talk of stars Burning above; If you're in love, Show me!

Tell me no dreams Filled with desire. If you're on fire, Show me!

Here we are together in the middle of the night! Don't talk of spring! Just hold me tight!

Anyone who's ever been in love'll tell you that This is no time for a chat!

Haven't your lips Longed for my touch? Don't say how much, Show me! Show me!

(Source: All Musicals)

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    Wonderful, thanks a lot for the context and explanations Nov 18, 2019 at 15:04
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    @ThéophilePace The proverb in full in English runs The proof of the pudding is in the eating, but the shorter version without the clarifying point is increasingly common.
    – tchrist
    Nov 18, 2019 at 15:34
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    @TonyK No, it isn't. The answer links to a dictionary article explaining its meaning.
    – Grimmy
    Nov 19, 2019 at 16:45
  • To further split hairs on this nice answer: “The proof is in the pudding” is (apparently) a modern version, but it is not “an OLD English proverb” as the answer suggests. The original and old proof will remain in the eating..
    – wintvelt
    Nov 20, 2019 at 8:51
  • "The proof is in the pudding" is a garbled version of the adage "the proof of the pudding is in the eating".
    – Kaz
    Nov 21, 2019 at 4:24

If you're looking for a similar saying in English, you could use:

Actions speak louder than words.

Which Cambridge Dictionary says means

what you do is more important than what you say, because the things you do show your true intentions and feelings.

  • It doesn't mean exactly the same. It's close, of course, because it emphasizes actions, but the quote really talk about love. It's interesting, but it doesn't reply to the question.
    – Quidam
    Nov 21, 2019 at 5:38
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    @Quidam: Would you object to the translation of "ne pas vendre la peau de l'ours avant de l'avoir tué" as "don't count your chickens before they hatch" because it doesn't mention bears? Nov 21, 2019 at 13:40
  • It's not the same thing. When you have a philosophy quote, about love, what is love, you cannot make them a saying, and exchange the meaning. When you talk about "la peau de l'ours", it's figurative, it's not a real bear. Here it really talks about what is love, and it seems that the English speakers only consider it as a saying (as Cocteau did), but Cocteau did that on purpose. The quote is deeper than that.
    – Quidam
    Nov 21, 2019 at 16:15
  • @Quidam: you can either treat this quote as literal, and translate it "there is no love; there are only acts of love" (which the OP already did). Or you can look for an English proverb that says more or less the same thing. "Actions speak louder than words" can be applied to acts of love, as well as acts of all other kinds. Nov 21, 2019 at 18:47
  • Yes, there is 2 ways to consider it, "Actions speak louder than words" is good, as it could be applied to love. But many other answers cannot. They are not as strong as this quote. Keeping the strength is important. For instance "the proof of pudding is in the eating" has a close meaning (the consequence), but loses the strength of the quote. For instance, if a character in a movie say this quote, it could notbe translated by the pudding one, one is deep, and the other humorous. They don't have the same register.
    – Quidam
    Nov 21, 2019 at 23:53

talk is cheap

From https://grammarist.com/idiom/talk-is-cheap/ :

The phrase talk is cheap means it is easier to talk about doing something than to actually do that thing. Many people say they will do something but never do it. The expression talk is cheap may be seen as a challenge to accomplish something, but it is usually a commentary that someone is not following through on a guarantee or promise. In other words, one may promise to accomplish any number of things, but the words mean nothing unless that person follows through and actually accomplishes those things. The phrase talk is cheap is an example of an idiom that was longer at one time. The population was so familiar with the second have of the idiom, it was seldom quoted. Today, the second half of the idiom has generally been forgotten. There were a number of idioms popular in the 1800s that began with the phrase talk is cheap. Some examples are talk is cheap but it takes money to buy a farm,
Today, the expression talk is cheap is often quoted, without the second half of any of the original idioms.

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    Nice answer, thanks for the edit as well Nov 18, 2019 at 15:05

A classic: "You talk the talk; do you walk the walk?"


One possibility would be

put your money where your mouth is

which the Cambridge dictionary defines as

to show by your actions and not just your words that you support or believe in something


Love is as love does?

(That's not a common phrase, but it's likely to be widely understood as it's along the same lines as ‘Handsome is as handsome does.’, of which at least one other variant is noted.)


Love can't exist in a vacuum.

Rekindling Romance for Dummies, for instance, has:

We know that love can't exist in a vacuum, because, to begin with, two people are needed. Those two people need to communicate their love for each other. The sounds, smells, sights, touches ....

The adage 'X can't exist in a vacuum' is a snowclone showing that theoretical love, faith, hatred and so on cannot really exist (and certainly can't persist) if merely theoretical. James says as much in his letter:

James 2:18 {New Living Translation}_BibleHub:

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”


If we're not just talking about romantic love, but other kinds of love as well, a similar idea is expressed in the first Epistle of John (1 John 3:18). In the New International Version, it is translated:

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

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