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I'm wondering how to say "nobody is perfect" in Japanese. Would 「完全な人いない」 be a correct translation?

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    An internet solution: eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=nobody+perfect&ref=sa – ssb Oct 15 '14 at 11:22
  • The プログレッシブ dictionary gives the following entry for "Nobody's perfect": ⦅話し言葉⦆だれにでも欠点[間違い]はある – Tim Oct 15 '14 at 12:45
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完璧な人間などいない。
完璧な人なんていないよ。
完璧な人間なんかいないさ。
etc, etc.

完璧 is better than 完全 here.
Adding something like など/なんて/なんか for emphasis sounds natural.
人 and 人間 are pretty much interchangeable here.

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    So basically 完璧な人間などいない。- Nobody's perfect? =) – ItachiUchiha Oct 15 '14 at 12:29
  • @ItachiUchiha Yeah that was the first translation I thought of. The other two sentences are more like what I would say to a friend to cheer them up :) – Robin Oct 15 '14 at 12:32
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    You might add 一人も before いない for emphasis. – istrasci Oct 15 '14 at 15:53
  • To add a little more variation to that, alc.co.jp gives the translations "完璧な人間などいない。/完全無欠の人などいない。/誰だって欠点はある。" I am in no means an expert, but to me the first one already mentioned in Ash's answer sounds like what you would find most often in natural spoken language, while the other two have more of a written language feel with its less common kango words whose meanings are easily deduced from the kanji if you don't know the words. – Raizin Oct 23 '14 at 20:14
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(Sorry to post this as a separate answer, but this was too long for a comment)

"Nobody is perfect" or "There is no such thing as a perfect person" can be almost literally translated as:

  • 完璧な人はいない。
  • 完璧な人などいない。
  • 人間は完璧ではない。

I believe this is completely natural, and you can confirm this in ALC and Weblio辞書. There is a movie with exactly the same title as this. You can google it yourself and see many native Japanese people actually using expressions like this.


There are some traditional Japanese proverbs which look similar:

  • 猿【さる】も木【き】から落【お】ちる (Even monkeys fall from trees.)
  • 河童【かっぱ】の川【かわ】流【なが】れ (Even kappa can be swept by water.)
  • 弘法【こうぼう】にも筆【ふで】の誤【あやま】り (Even Kōbō-Daishi (known as a good calligrapher) makes an error in writing.)

However, these proverbs are not drop-in replacement of 完璧な人はいない. There is a big difference between "Even experts can occasionally make an mistake" and "No one is perfect".

「猿も木から落ちる/河童の川流れ/弘法にも筆の誤り」 is only used when someone is very good at something, but he made an simple mistake in his field of expertise:

  • チェスのグランド・マスターが、チェスで小学生に負けた。猿も木から落ちるだ。
  • イチローが野球の試合中に、ボールを落とした。猿も木から落ちるだ。
  • 日本語の先生が、簡単な漢字を間違えた。猿も木から落ちるだ。

You can use 「完璧な人はいない」 in several kinds of situations, but it's mainly used when someone is known to be very good at something, but bad at a different thing. It's usually the equivalent of "everyone has his faults".

  • そのチェスのグランド・マスターは、10年間に5回も離婚した。完璧な人はいない。
  • いくらイチローでも、サッカーまで上手なわけではない。完璧な人はいない。
  • その日本語の先生は普段はとても温厚だが、お酒を飲むと暴れる。完璧な人はいない。

You can never use 猿も木から落ちる and the friends in these examples.

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To affect that meaning, my favourites are:

  1. 河童{かっぱ}の川流れ{かわながれ}。
  2. 河童も溺{おぼ}れる。{much less common than #1)
  3. 猿{さる}も木{き}から落{お}ちる。

either will get you a smile from the listener.

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    Those sound much more natural than the directly translated "完璧な~~~~". – l'électeur Oct 15 '14 at 15:49
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    これらは、見ての通り「プロも時々失敗する」という意味ですから、質問の意図とはやや異なるように思います。例えば「彼はイケメンで、お金持ちで、運動もできるが、性格が悪い。」という状況の場合、「猿も木から落ちる」という表現は変です。「完璧な人間はいない」の方が自然だと思います。 – naruto Oct 16 '14 at 3:42
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    @naruto I think that you are translating "he / she / (that person) is perfect", rather than "nobody is perfect". And, "nobody is perfect" is just an amorphous phrase (not a "subject + verb + adjective" sentence to deconstruct). So, I tried to capture that amorphous meaning with what might be an equally amorphous Japanese 諺. However... I am not sure at all about "河童も溺れる". Since it has not been corrected yet, I guess it is ok. I can't find it with a google. Maybe I misheard it somewhere, but then why has it not been corrected... – user312440 Oct 16 '14 at 4:32
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    @user312440 What we need is a set phrase which means "there is no such thing as a perfect man (on earth)", right? I think I understand that. 完璧な人間はいない is a kind of set phrase we hear quite often, if not a traditional proverb. 河童も溺れる is better known as 河童の川流れ. – naruto Oct 16 '14 at 5:17
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    Oh, I wrote "彼はイケメンで金持ちだが性格が悪い (he is handsome and rich but has a bad personality)" just as an example of a situation, where describing it as 猿も木から落ちる (= even experts can make a mistake) is inappropriate while 完璧な人間などいない (= no one is perfect) fits perfectly. – naruto Oct 16 '14 at 5:41
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I would say "まぁ、人のやることですから" which expresses the idea very well. The nuance is very close to "Well, we are all only humans."

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