Half a loaf is better than to be without bread.
Note: Half a loaf is better than none. Half an egg is better than an empty shell. Mar a deirtear i nGaeilge na hAlban, “Is fheàrr fuine thana na bhith uile falamh.” (As they say in Scots Gaelic, “Thin kneading is better than no bread.) As the Lowland Scots say, “Bannocks are better than nae bread.”
Note also: This weeks seanfhocal uses a negative form after the verbal noun, i.e., [verbal noun.] + gan. In contrast, there is another Irish grammar form that uses the opposite sequence, namely, gan + [verbal noun]. Consider these examples:
Abair leis gan teacht isteach.
Tell him not to come in.
Dúirt sé léi gan dul ansin.
He told her not to go in there.
Bhí an bád gan imeacht fós.
The boat has not left yet.
This form is used to express a negative infintive in English, e.g., not to come, not to go, not to leave. The last example could literally be translated as, “The boat has not to leave yet.” However, that would be incorrect English syntax. In English the two verbs must agree on tense. So the infinitive “to leave” was changed in the example to the Enlgish past perfect, “left.”