I think that a very strong way to answer a phrase like "Don't think this is going to grant you any special treatment" or the like, is "I will sing for my supper, I don't expect it for free"

At least, I like this English expression very much.

Is there an equivalent expression in Italian? Even though I am Italian I did not find anything like it.

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    Hello, and welcome to Italian.SE! You mentioned you're Italian: feel free to post in Italian, if you wish. Just like at french.SE, german. SE, and other SE sites, we welcome submissions in English and in Italian alike. Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


Guadagnarsi il pane (la vita) col sudore della fronte is similar to "sing for one's supper." (Reference: Treccani.it)

Keep in mind, however, that it has some cultural history (detailed below) not to mention alliteration, that one can't easily duplicate. There is also something about it that is slightly archaic.

To sing for one's supper, meaning:

Work for one's pay or reward, as in Entertaining visiting scientists is part of the job; you know I have to sing for my supper.

This metaphoric term alludes to wandering minstrels who performed in taverns and were paid with a meal. First recorded in 1609, it gained currency with the familiar nursery rhyme, “Little Tommy Tucker, sings for his supper” (c. 1744).

Here is the text of the nursery rhyme, "Little Tommy Tucker, sings for his supperenter image description here"

The saying was further popularized with a musical number "Sing For Your Supper" from the "The Boys from Syracuse" in 1938.

  • thank you for the answer and for all the background on this english expression! I think I'll accept this answer in a while.. In the meantime, if you come up with other ways to tell it please include them in your post! :)
    – Ant
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 23:12
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    Also "guadagnarsi la pagnotta" or "portare a casa la pagnotta". I think that in most of the cases you need to add "pur di ..." to get the same English sense: Intrattenere gli scienziati in visita è parte del lavoro; vedi cosa mi tocca fare pur di portare a casa la pagnotta.
    – gioele
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 16:58

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