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English Idioms

“Bark Up the Wrong Tree”

Bark Up the Wrong Tree


  • Come to the wrong conclusion about something

Frequency of Use: Medium

Sample Sentences

  1. I didn’t steal your book. You’re barking up the wrong tree by saying it was me.
  2. I told you that you are barking up the wrong tree because Maria didn’t tell me about the party. Michael did.
  3. If you think we get rid of this illness with a drug, you are barking up the wrong tree. It is a much more difficult problem than you think.
  4. You’re barking up the wrong tree by suggesting that Maria isn’t a motivated student. Yes, she sometimes falls asleep in class, but she has been taking care of her sick mother, so she hasn’t had much time to study.
  5. I kept telling you that you were barking up the wrong tree when you claimed that the teacher gave you a low score because he didn’t your writing. As  you can see now, you actually didn’t do the assignment correctly.

Conversation Questions

  1. Is global warming caused by human activity, or do you think people are just barking up the wrong tree on the issue?
  2. Some people suggest that taking vitamins is the solution to preventing COVID-19 infection, but do you think that this is true, or do you feel these people are barking up the wrong tree?

Speaking Situation

You are a 15-year-old high school student. While you are studying in your bedroom at home, your mother barges into your room and yells at you. She tells you that you are grounded, and she takes away your home. When you ask why, she tells you that she found a bottle of beer in the car. She is now going to contact your uncle who is a police officer.

You try to convince your mother that it wasn’t your bottle, and she is barking up the wrong tree.  In fact, you strongly believe that it was your brother because you have seen him drink before. Unfortunately, your mom doesn’t believe you because your brother is an outstanding student, volunteers in the community, and takes good care of your mother’s dog.

So, what are you going to do to convince your mother that she is barking up the wrong tree, and she needs to take a more careful look at your brother?

Possible Answer

“I’m going to talk to my brother’s friends to see if they know anything about his drinking.”

Language Activity

Sometimes, learners know the meaning of an idiom, but they don’t know how to use it correctly in conversation or writing. Thus, this activity checks your grammatical accuracy with the idiom so you become more confident in using it. 

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