Results 1 to 5 of 5
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Czech
      • Home Country:
      • Czech Republic
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2014
    • Posts: 801
    #1

    Carry coals to Newcastle

    Hello,

    Do the sentences below sound natural?

    "Trying to persuade him not to do it again is just carrying coals to Newcastle."

    "By trying to persuade him not to do it again you just carry coals to Newcastle."

    Thanks a lot.
    Not a Teacher

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Aug 2011
    • Posts: 963
    #2

    Re: Carry coals to Newcastle

    It's the wrong use of the metaphor.

    Newcastle is (was?) a mining town, so 'carrying coals to Newcastle' means giving as a gift something the recipient already has in abundance.

    There are numerous metaphors for doing something futile:

    "Like trying to poke a cat out from under a porch with a wet rope" Comes to mind.

    Also: "teaching an old dog new tricks" or "A leopard cannot change his spots". I'm sure others will chime in...

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,846
    #3

    Re: Carry coals to Newcastle

    My initial reaction was, like J&K's, that the metaphor was being used wrongly. However, it appears that "Trying to persuade him not to do it again" is probably futile so the idea is correct but the usage does indeed sound wrong to me. I can't quite put my finger on why. It might be because the first idea is long and convoluted. We usually compare "doing something" with "carrying coals to Newcastle", rather than "trying to persuade someone not to do something".

    I use "selling ice to Eskimos".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 1,741
    #4

    Re: Carry coals to Newcastle

    Maybe why it's not quite right here is because carrying coals to Newcastle is pointless, yes, but also has an ironic sense. I mean, Newcastle would be the last place you'd expect coals to be carried.

  2. Skrej's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: May 2015
    • Posts: 2,397
    #5

    Re: Carry coals to Newcastle

    One of my favorite expressions for futility is 'p*ss up a rope'.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] This bag is too heavy for me to carry/ to carry it.
    By wotcha22 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 19-Sep-2014, 15:30
  2. Newcastle - round 2
    By eyefordetail in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 13-Jul-2013, 18:59
  3. glow-coals
    By Bushwhacker in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 21-Feb-2010, 14:11
  4. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 23-Jun-2009, 16:22
  5. the street performer walk across/on the burning hot coals.
    By angliholic in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 09-Dec-2007, 14:06

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •