In conversation, I just said:

Нельзя заснуть и наутро уже все знать и уметь. Будь терпеливой. Ты получила права совсем недавно. То, что ты сумела столько продержаться с нами, – уже само по себе подвиг.

I went on a motorcycle ride with my girlfriend, who had obtained a driver's licence just recently. I wanted to express the idea of how one couldn't reasonably expect to get significantly better at something overnight.

The adverb "overnight" can be figuratively used when something changes/happens/etc surprisingly quickly. In French, the expression "du jour au lendemain" matches perfectly, but in Russian, this phrasing was the best I could come up with right there and then.

How do Russian speakers commonly express this idea?

  • 5
    The suggested "в одночасье" is a good idiomatic alternative, but in any case what you said sounds perfectly natural.
    – Zeus
    May 3, 2019 at 1:38
  • To mind comes the Russian proverb "Быстро хорошо не бывает." May 4, 2019 at 6:28

3 Answers 3


В одночасье

Нельзя всё узнать и всему научиться в одночасье. Будь терпеливой. Ты получила права совсем недавно. То, что ты сумела столько продержаться с нами, – уже само по себе подвиг.

Simpler variants are моментально, в (один) момент, мгновенно, в одно мгновение, в мгновение ока, мигом, за (один) день, тут же, сразу

  • @svavil thank you May 2, 2019 at 10:47
  • 3
    Нельзя всему научиться вдруг - жаль, что так уже не говорят. Красиво же...
    – tum_
    May 2, 2019 at 11:27
  • 1
    В одночасье is not spoken Russian. I've never heard it used beyond literature courses and classics. May 2, 2019 at 21:02
  • 2
    i have and would use it again, pretty neutral word, just good Russian, nothing fancy May 2, 2019 at 21:06
  • 1
    this is a grotesque concoction of mixed registers, of course most native speakers don't talk such nonsense, but it has no bearing on the usability of в одночасье, you've fallen into a Straw Man logical fallacy in your arguments May 2, 2019 at 21:29

Yes, we have a great variety of excellent proverbs about this, perhaps even more catchy and appealing than in other languages. Here are some examples:

  1. Быстро только кошки родятся. Literal meaning: What happens quickly is only reproduction of cats. Global meaning: Everything takes time.

  2. Москва не сразу строилась. Literal meaning: Moscow wasn't built instantly. Global meaning: Everything big is done gradually.

  3. От нетерпения вода в котелке не закипит. Literal meaning: Impatience won't make the water in the pot boil. Global meaning: There's no use of impatience.

  4. Терпи, казак, атаманом станешь. Literal meaning: Be patient (in enduring difficulties and sufferings), private, you will become a commander. Global meaning: Efforts and sufferings will pay off.

Here is a very Russian way to express what you want to express:

Что, получила права и думала, что уже всё умеешь? Ага, разбежалась! Быстро научиться нельзя, потому что быстро только кошки родятся. На всякое хотенье имей терпенье, а от нетерпенья и вода в котелке не закипит. Так что терпи, казачка. Атаманшей станешь! :)

Update: I did not add one important thing, assuming it goes without saying, but the comments below suggest it doesn't. The above example is humorous and has to be said in a proper manner, in a convincing but humorous and positive tone, with a smile on your face and with love in your eyes. The use of proverbs is supposed to be just the icing on the cake. The cake is your tone and facial expression. Overall, in such situations, it mainly boils down not to what you say, but to how you say. If you say the above speech in a wrong tone and with a wrong facial expression, it can do more harm than good :)

  • 4
    A perfect recipe to make one's girlfriend an ex :)
    – tum_
    May 2, 2019 at 11:24
  • 9
    This "very Russian way" is uncommon and frankly cringeworthy, partly because it's so overloaded with proverbs. I don't know anyone who talks like that
    – vaultah
    May 2, 2019 at 11:31
  • 1
    @tum_ if I had an American boyfriend and he said this speech in Russian in a deeply convincing tone and with a charming smile, somewhat humorously, I would be very deeply impressed. It simply boils down not to what you say, but rather to how you say. Compare two situations: (1) A young girl says in a shy manner, ''Bring me one beer.'' (2) A big hulk says in an angry threatening tone, ''Would you bring me one beer please?!!!'' You get my point :)
    – Sandra
    May 2, 2019 at 11:32
  • 2
    A really small number of native Russian speakers talk like this. However, on average, Russian speakers do use proverbs more often than English speakers. May 2, 2019 at 21:05

За ночь

would be most suitable for spoken language.

Which is by the way "over-night" translated literally.

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