What are Russian equivalents of the English idiom "It's a work in progress"?

To make this question self-sufficient, the definition of "work in progress" is "an unfinished project that is still being added to or developed". Usually it is supposed that it is developed slower than expected.

  • I would not say there is a coined fixed idiom. Rather a number of expressions. For example like "эта задача (всё ещё) в работе" or "Работа не закончена/продолжается"
    – Arioch
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 7:39
  • When asking about translation of an idiom it could be very helpful to say what this idiom means in English.
    – Abakan
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 7:40
  • 4
    Perhaps most close to verbatim would be "мы работаем над этим" but this cliche is typically used not for it literal sense but as an office-polite soulless way to say "shut up and get lost" without giving formal standing to complain.
    – Arioch
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 7:47
  • @Abakan I added a link to the meaning of the idiom.
    – rapt
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 8:50
  • @Arioch +1, sounds humorous, but suits a lot of situations.
    – V.V.
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 10:12

6 Answers 6


Тут ещё ничего не готово

Тут пока ничего не окончательно

Тут всё ещё очень сырое

Each of those fits in some contexts, and doesn't fit in others; none would work if you're talking about, say, learning a language. I don't think there's an expression that's as one-size-fits-all as "It's a work in progress" (which I feel other answerers have been interpreting too literally).

  • 1
    I definitely agree that it's a bad idea to interpret it literally. More often, "it's a work in progress" means "it's never going to happen," not "we're working on it." скоро будет isn't a great equivalent, but they're not so far apart. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 0:05

"Работа в процессе выполнения", "работа ведется", "я работаю над этим".

For example:

  • How is work? - Как работа?
  • In progress. - В процессе.
  • 2
    Thank you. I was wondering, is Работа the right word to use in this context? I was thinking to use it but, it sounded to me "too literal" a translation, since so far in Russian I only remember seeing it referring to "work" in the sense of labor... but I think in this English expression it is more in the sense of anything that may take a long time to reach stability, such as learning a language, waiting for wine to mature, or even building a strong relationship; however these are not always seen as labor.
    – rapt
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 7:55
  • Well, it's the same for russian "работа". "Learning a language" - "работать над языком", "building a strong relationship" - "работать над отношениями", "improving yourself" - "работать над собой", "housework" - "работа по дому".
    – notChosen
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 8:15
  • 3
    A living, breathing person would never say "работа в процессе выполнения". Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 8:42
  • @rapt Exactly. I don't think the answerers so far are fully aware of how "It's a work in progress" is used in English. Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 8:44
  • Okay, i'm not a living person, thanks for the news. But there's no word about situation, so you can't say that you understand question better than me, if you're not mind reader.
    – notChosen
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 9:24

There is no exact synonym. There are many ways to indicate work in progress "ведётся работа" (work is being done), "мы работаем над этим" (we are working on this), "проблему уже изучают наши специалисты" (our specialists are already investigating the problem) are all likely the thing you need, but there is no set expressions not implying something else.


There's a word which is specifically about building construction in progress - "долгострой".

When finishing some building project - building, bridge or road takes more and more time and still far from being finished - it's exactly долгострой.

Quite often it's used not only about building. It can be used for describing state of software development (like here - "Долгострой в разработке ПО: о проблемах управления требованиями") or some political reforms - than it's "политический долгострой".

Still, this term is not universal. The closest you can get is затянувшаяся работа or незапланированно долго затянувшаяся работа.

  • 1
    -1: "Долгострой" is not "work in progress". The latter does not imply length of the work, the former does. The latter does imply that the work is not finished yet, the former does not. "Долгострой" is just anything taking long to finish. Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 15:06
  • @Baskakov_Dmitriy I'm not sure I got it right - can you clarify which one does not imply that work is not finished?
    – shabunc
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 15:14
  • "Долгострой" can be used for work being finished already. "Work in progress" cannot. Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 15:19
  • 1
    @Baskakov_Dmitriy good point, it also can be used for something that is already finished (like in "это был политический долгострой"), but de-facto in the majority of cases it's more likely about something that is not finished up to the moment.
    – shabunc
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 15:34
  • 1) "Долгострой" is masculine, so "это был" долгострой" 2) Even if it is used in such a narrow way most of the time (not sure if it is so), the wider meaning means that it is not a synonym Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 15:40

Я не волшебник, я ещё только учусь

"I am not a sorcerer, I'm still learning"

In the original meaning, it was stressing more humility than unfinished work, but since then it has become more related to the latter than the former.

Скоро только кошки родятся

"Only kittens are got to be born quick"

the meaning is "This should take longer than you think"

  • 2
    I believe this is not a valid answer to the question asked.
    – shabunc
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 16:58
  • 1
    @shabunc - the question was asking for an "idiom". While other answers provide many options for equivalent translation, I don't think the idioms are adequately covered so far.
    – Alexander
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 17:07
  • ну вот честно, я не представляю ни одного даже самого вольного перевода в котором вместо "work in progress" кто-нибудь бы написал "скоро только кошки родятся". Ну это очень слабо связанные вещи.
    – shabunc
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 18:48
  • 1
    Я, напротив, легко могу предстваить себе перевод 12 стульев, где Остап бы ответил "It's work in progress".
    – Alexander
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 18:51
  • Забавно, я пошёл из любопытства поглядеть как эту фразу перевели де-факто на английский, и вот, некто John Richardson просто её выбросил. Совсем - более того, перевод просто ужасный в принципе - lib.ru/ILFPETROV/ilf_petrov_12_chairs_engl.txt
    – shabunc
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 19:19

In an informal situation, you can use a citation from the old cartoon:

Стрижка только начата!

In the cartoon, a lion wanted to cut hairs, but he was very impatient. He asked several times is the work finished. A crane (the hairdresser) answered each time "Not ready yet", and finally said Стрижка только начата!, what made the lion angry.
This phrase literally means "I've just begun", and is very famous.

  • Russians do not like work, and have only vague idea what progress means. Hence, here we are :)
    – ddbug
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 13:37
  • I concur. "И теперь не всё готово" - is well known indeed. But "Стрижка только начата" - is not. YMMV of course.
    – Arioch
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 9:19
  • @Arioch This sounds strange for me. Who can remember "И теперь не всё готово" and can't - "Стрижка только начата"? I can't imagine such person.
    – Dmitriy
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 9:48
  • @Dmitry well, supposedly, rumors about my existence are greatly exaggerated
    – Arioch
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 13:24
  • @Arioch No, that was rumors about my imagination ;)
    – Dmitriy
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 14:15

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