How do I say in Spanish "there's a fine line between" something and something else?

As in "the difference is not clear-cut" or "it's not black & white".

It feels that something like "no hay mucha diferencia entre" doesn't capture the English idiom very well.


6 Answers 6


Hay una sutil diferencia entre X y Y.

for "the difference is not clear-cut". And indeed,

No hay mucha diferencia entre X y Y.

would be wrong. You'd be saying that the difference is negligible.

  • 1
    Yes, "sutil diferencia" indeed seems idiomatic. For instance, as Jorge Luis Borges wrote: Después de un tiempo, uno aprende la sutil diferencia entre sostener una mano y encadenar un alma
    – Jonik
    Jun 6, 2014 at 21:20
  • 1
    I don't quite agree. "Hay una sutil differencia" emphasizes the difference, "there's a fine line" emphasizes the proximity.
    – leonbloy
    Aug 21, 2014 at 20:23
  • 1
    "... would be wrong. You'd be saying that the difference is negligible." But that's what the "there's a fine line" idiom means! idioms.thefreedictionary.com/there+is+a+fine+line+between
    – leonbloy
    Aug 21, 2014 at 20:25
  • 1
    @leonbloy sutil means subtle. So it does emphasize the proximity AND the difference.
    – Quarkex
    Aug 23, 2014 at 16:15


Hay una delgada línea entre X y Y.

De X a Y solo hay un paso.


Del X a Y hay solo un paso

So Del amor al odio hay solo un paso will be There is a fine line between love and hate.

As Napolean said:

There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.

In wikiquote is translated like De lo sublime a lo ridículo no hay más que un paso

Del X a Y hay solo un paso


Del X a Y no hay más que un paso

Both as idioms are the same, but for me the first is more used and I have heard it more often when you use two opposite words or in films.

  • Is there is only one step the same as the difference is not clear-cut?
    – c.p.
    Jan 25, 2014 at 23:17
  • I put one step because I think is the more appropiate translation for the idiom he is asking (maybe is too poetic). All three idiomas means there is no a clear difference between both words. Look at wordreference's forum, or maybe we can ask on englishstackexchange. Likewise, as it was commented 'delgada linea' seems to be more used.
    – AlexBcn
    Jan 28, 2014 at 13:56

There is a fine line between = Hay una fina linea entre...

The difference is not clear-cut = La diferencia no es clara.

It's not black & white = No es o blanco o negro.

  • There's a fine line between/Hay una línea muy delgada entre

  • The difference is not clear-cut/La diferencia es mínima

  • It's not black & white/No es blanco y negro. Aque aquí yo usaría: No todo es blanco y negro/Nada es blanco y negro


Ejemplo de "sutil diferencia".

Después de un tiempo Uno aprende la sutil diferencia Entre sostener una mano y encadenar el alma,

según el internet, lo escribió Borges.

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