You don’t need to sing to “Preach to the Choir”

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And now, Words and their stories, from VOA Learn English.

In this program, we explore the words and phrases of the English language.

Today we are talking about a type of shared belief. Often in our lives, we come together with others because of a common belief or purpose. This group can sometimes be called a choir.

A choir can describe a group of instruments of the same type, for example a brass choir.

A choir can be used to describe an organized group of people or things. For example, many rich and famous people travel with a choir of assistants.

A choir is also a group of singers organized in a church. This is the most common definition. For today’s expression, we’ll focus on the church choir. The expression is “preaching to the choir”.

Church leaders preach. This is why they are called preachers. But the word “preach” isn’t just used in a church.

You can preach anything that you think is good or necessary. However, people who preach to others speak to them in a way annoying way on the right way to behave. They may seem thought they know better. And books that try to teach a moral the lesson could be criticized for being too judgmental.

But now back to our phrase “preaching to the choir”.

An online dictionary gives this definition: If I’m preaching to the choir, I’m presenting an argument or opinion to people who already agree with it. So I’m not trying to to convince them. Maybe I’m just trying to feel good about my idea.

When you preach in the choir, you are sharing your opinion with people who already agree with you. They are already on your side. You don’t need to convince them. So sometimes it means you lose your breath like in this example.

You know, we need a park in our neighborhood.

I couldn’t agree more.

The empty property at the end of the street would be perfect. And it’s near the woods. So it will be very calm.

You don’t have to sell me your idea. I brought up the same idea years ago.

It would be great not only for the kids, but for everyone! It could be a gathering place and a place for community activities.

I already know all this! Now, you’re just preaching to the choir. What you need to do is talk to all the other neighbors on that street and on board. A few were against the idea years ago.

Here is another example. If I told you that learning another language can be good for you in many ways, and that you should try it, you might say, “Anna, you preach in the choir! We are already doing it.

And that’s all the time we have for it Words and their stories.

Until next time… I’m Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.

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Words in this story

annoying – adj. causing mild anger

moral – adj. or relating to the principles of right and wrong in behavior

to convince – v. get (someone) to agree to do something

on board – verbal sentence agreeing with something or someone: being part of a team or organization

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