Кулинарный опыт кулинарным опытом, но вы еще совсем дети.

Context: Two kids have outstanding culinary skills, especially given their young age.

I suppose the phrase literally translates as:

Culinary skills are in culinary skills (only) -- not to be associated with anything else.

I wonder if it basically means something along the lines of:

You two have outstanding culinary skills, I'll grant you that, but leaving them aside, you're still kids, all right.

{or}: You two have remarkable culinary skills, I'll give you that, but it doesn't change the fact that you're still kids through and through.

(Q1): How do you paraphrase the expression if instead of the adjective "кулинарный" you have a genitive noun like "работы"?

??? Опыт работы опытом работы, но ...

(Q2): Are there other similar expressions that use a deliberately repetitious wording like this? Or can you apply this "nominative + instrumental" construction to virtually any context? For instance, can you express this part in bold with this construction?

I love music, but (for all my love of it) I need to be more realistic in choosing my career.

  • 2
    Дружба дружбой, а табачок врозь///Война войной, а обед по распорядку
    – Elena
    Jul 11, 2018 at 13:27

2 Answers 2


This "[smth.] in nominative+instrumental" construction is used in conversational speech, indeed, when you want to convey "[smth.] is fine [by itself]/does as it must do, but ..." or "putting [smth.] aside, ...".

Mildly confrontational, somewhat assuming greater expertise on the speaker' part (perhaps correctly). "It's right/fine of you to do/say/point out/be capable of [smth.], but [my greater expertise] leads to ...".


I would actually translate it as "Having some culinary skills is fine and dandy, but you're still just kids." So yes, it means that you are agreeing with some point that's been made, but you want to point out some larger context or some circumstances that make things a bit more complicated.

There are a few expressions like that, one that comes to mind is "Работа работой, а обед по расписанию".

For the second part of the question - yes, you can apply it in a number of situations, though not sure about ANY context. For your example: "Музыка музыкой, но мне надо как то деньги зарабатывть". You can come up with any number of examples - like "Любовь любовью, но у тебя экзамены на носу".

You can also in many cases (but not always) use " - это, конечно, хорошо, но" Instead of repeating the word or expression. Like so "Музыка - это, конечно, хорошо, но мне надо как то деньги зарабатывть" or in you original sentence - "Кулинарный опыт - это, конечно, хорошо, но...".

  • 1
    AFAIK, the phrase about the work initially was about the war: "Война войной, а обед по расписанию".
    – Dmitriy
    Jul 12, 2018 at 9:58

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