Is there any phrase/expression to express the situation where someone is preaching or giving advice to someone who already understands and agrees with them and the whole speech is unnecessary. Something like "Barking up the wrong tree", but this expression conveys something different and not what I am looking for.

4 Answers 4


I found the expression "Preach to the choir", which exactly expresses what I would like to convey.

Fig. to make one's case primarily to one's supporters; to make one's case only to those people who are present or who are already friendly to the issues. idioms.thefreedictionary.com

  • 6
    "Preaching to the choir" is exactly the phrase that comes to my mind.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 20:10
  • 2
    It is not only correct but in extremely common usage. It's exactly the idiom you're looking for.
    – Ben Zotto
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 4:49

Also the variant, preaching to the converted:

  • to try to persuade people to believe things they already believe (usually in continuous tenses) There's no need to tell us about the benefits of recycling. You're preaching to the converted. 

Ngram preaching to the choir vs preaching to the converted

  • In AmE the usage levels are even closer.
    – bib
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 0:09

The phrases persuading the persuaded (ELU,1), beating a dead horse (ELU,2), pushing at an open door (ELU,3) and carrying coals to Newcastle (ELU,4) also are sometimes used as alternatives to or substitutes for the phrase preaching to the choir. Also see Are "preaching to the choir" and "preaching to the converted" synonymous.

  • I would not consider beating a dead horse synonymous. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 22:56
  • @LorenPechtel, arguments both ways about that issue appear in some of the questions I linked to. On one hand, some say beating a dead horse, carrying coals to Newcastle and preaching to the choir all represent the futility of an enterprise. On the other, some say preaching to the choir is used when you tell someone you've already heard all the arguments and agree, vs beating a dead horse being often applied in cases of disagreement. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 23:09
  • Yeah, they're all about futility but the dead horse is disagreement, not agreement. Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 1:09

The German version of this meme is expressed as "Carrying owls to Athens" ;-) But I'm sorry, I don't really know if there exists a version of this in English. I just find the metaphor beautiful enough to share it.

  • 1
    Downvotes should be accompanied by a descriptive comment.
    – Alfe
    Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 14:09

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