AE 297 – Expression: To Be Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Learn Australian English in this Expression episode of Aussie English where I teach you how to use TO BE BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE.

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AE 297 – Expression: To Be Barking Up The Wrong Tree

What’s up guys?

How’ve you been?

How are you goin’ and what you been up ta?

Whatcha been doin’?

Just thought I’d drop a few different greetings in there in my strong Australian accent.

How have you been? I hope you’ve been having a great week.

I guess, to go over what I’ve been up to this week.

I’ve been working on my final presentation for my PhD, which I have to do next week on Thursday.

And then, effectively, at least for the next month or two, I’m free.

So, it’s been really good. It’s been really good since handing in the PhD.

I’ve been pretty pretty relieved, pretty freed up. I’ve had a lot more free time.

I’ve been obviously working on Aussie English, seeing friends, working at the restaurant, also tutoring a lot more now.

I’ve been giving a lot more tutoring sessions, which has been a lot of fun.

I love helping people learn English, and improve their English, and build their confidence.

So, that’s been a lot of fun.

Aside from that, you guys might have noticed some of the stuff that I’ve done recently on YouTube.

I have… I did a video where I talk about facts about platypus.

And I would love to get your feedback on this. So, go over to YouTube.

There’s two episodes up at the moment, and I’ll put a third out today.

But the basic idea was that I wanted to break down the pronunciation and connected speech whilst also teaching you facts about interesting things about Australia.

And in this case, I used the platypus.

So, I have looked up and written out 10 facts about the platypus, Australia’s cool little monotreme mammal.

A very very unique form of monotreme. And its closest relative is the echidna.

So, I wrote out 10 facts about the platypus and at the end of each video, where I go through these 10 facts, I break down the pronunciation and connected speech of one of the facts.

One of the sentences.

So, I’ve put that up on YouTube, and I’m going to release one sentence each day.

So, if you really really want to work on your connected speech, on your pronunciation of Australian English, I really recommend getting on there.

I’ve got the IPA, and I discuss how I would change the phrase when I speak quickly like a native.

Apart from that, I have been working on trying to come up with a weekly time to do live classes.

And I think the time that I have settled upon the time, that I have decided on, settled on, is 7 p.m. Melbourne time on Thursdays.

This seems to be a really good time, and it seems like late… or early evening/late afternoon is when you guys are most available to attend these classes.

So, if you want to come to these live classes and practice your Australian English, practice your phrasal verb usage, Australian slang, expressions, that kind of stuff, come to Facebook, The Aussie English Facebook page.

And I’m gonna try and make sure that each Thursday at 7 p.m. I do a live class.

So, let me know what you guys think of that.

And the good thing about these classes is at the end of these classes I try and open it up now, I try and make myself available, to answer any questions you might have, whether it’s about the class, whether it’s about Australia, whether it’s about me, whether it’s about English.

(It) could be anything you like.

At the ends of these classes, I like to hang around, I like to chat to you guys one on one, although it’s a lot of you on one, me being “the one”, and answer your questions.

I guess, one last thing to mention before we dive into today’s expression is also that I have launched, or relaunched, the Patreon page.

So, I’ve tried to put a bit more effort into this this time, and put it at the forefront of Aussie English.

But, Patreon is a website where you can go and you can sign up to be a patron of Aussie English.

And a patron is someone who supports something.

So, I really recommend if you like the podcast, if you’re using the content, if it’s helping you improve your English, and specifically Australian English, that you consider becoming an Aussie English patron.

And this is where you can donate anything from as little as one dollar each month to support what I do at Aussie English.

So, I’ve designed this to allow you guys to sort of call the shots, to allow you guys to directly support the podcast, and I’ll probably roll out more content or more bonus stuff for supporters here.

I’m thinking about what I can do.

But the more that you guys donate and support this program, or this platform, the more I can do to give you free content and help you develop your Australian English.

So, you can jump on there. It’ll be linked below.

You can donate anything from a dollar per month.

You can donate more money if you wish. (It’s) totally up to you guys.

But the basic idea is to allow you to support something that you enjoy listening to, you enjoy using.

And to hopefully keep it ad-free.

So, ultimately, I want to make a living from this, and I want to keep ads out of the podcast.

I want to try and be able to keep ads off the YouTube channel, but in order to do so I need to have another form of income.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough I’ve rabbited on enough.

I’ve talked and talked and talked in the intro here. We’ve gone to about 6 minutes.

Let’s just dive into today’s expression.

Alright. Today’s expression. Today’s expression is “to be barking up the wrong tree” or “to bark up the wrong tree”.

As usual guys, we’ll dive in and define the words in the expression to bark up the wrong tree or to be barking up the wrong tree.

“To bark” is the sound that a dog makes.

So, if you hear a dog say “ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff”, he’s barking. That is “to bark”.

That is when a dog is barking. It can also be used to describe when a person yells at someone.

So, if someone barks at you they could be yelling at you. And you’ll often hear this collocated with the word “orders”.

So, a general might bark orders at his subordinates, at the people below him, at the soldiers.

To bark.

The word “up”. I’m sure you guys know what “up” is.

It’s the opposite of “down”. It’s towards the top of something. It’s “up”.

The word “wrong”.

“Wrong” is the opposite of “right”, the opposite of correct. It is not true, untrue.

It’s incorrect. It’s a bad answer, a bad response, or untrue. “Wrong”.

And “a tree”, “a tree” is a large plant.

And this is usually a plant with a strong fibrous trunk. It’s usually pretty big.

It’s not a small plant. A tree tends to be large. The kind of thing you can climb.

It has branches, leaves, and yeah, usually a thick trunk with bark on it.

So, as usual let’s define the expression, guys.

The expression “to be barking up the wrong tree” or “to bark up the wrong tree” is used when you’ve gone to the wrong place for information.

So, this is usually what someone will say to you when you’ve come to them asking them for information asking them for an answer, and they’re telling you you’ve come to the wrong place.

So, the idiom is making an allusion (to), it’s suggesting, it’s talking about the mistake made by dogs when they believe that they have chased a cat or some kind of prey up a tree, but that the cat has escaped into another tree.

So, whether the cat ran up another tree and the dog has picked the wrong one, or whether the cat did originally run up the tree that the dog is barking up, but has since jumped into another tree, that is the idea that this expression is getting at.

That the dog is barking up the wrong tree. The dog has gone to the wrong tree. It’s looking in the wrong place for the cat.

So, as usual guys, let’s go through some examples for this expression “to be barking up the wrong tree”.



Example number one.

Imagine that you need help moving a piano or moving something heavy in your house, and you ask a family member to help you, but it turns out the person that you asked has no arms.

So, for whatever reason this person has no arms. Maybe they have misplaced them for the day.

Well, (it’s) unlikely, but they don’t have any arms. They’ve lost their arms for some reason.

So, they obviously can’t help you move something like a piano that is incredibly heavy.

And this person could say to you, “You’ve come to the wrong place. You’re barking up the wrong tree. It’s pretty obvious that I can’t help you move this stuff. You’ve come to the wrong place. You’re looking for help where I can’t give you help. You’re barking up the wrong tree.”


Example number two.

Imagine that a kid comes to one of his parents, kid goes to one of his parents looking for sympathy after pulling his sister’s hair, and his sister slapped him.

And the parents saw this happen.

So, the kid has gone to the parents, you know, this quite often happens, and as I am sure I did when I was a kid, and has said, “Oh! My sister slapped me. She hit me!”.

But the parents saw that in fact you, the child, had pulled the hair of your sister first, which had caused her to get angry and slap you.

So, if you looking for sympathy from your parents when they had seen what you’d done you’re not going to get any sympathy.

So, you’re barking up the wrong tree. And your parents might say this to you.

“Mate, we saw what you did. You’re barking up the wrong tree if you’re looking for sympathy. If you’re looking for a hug, if you’re looking for some kind of sympathy, you’re barking up the wrong tree. We saw you pull your sisters hair.”


Example number three.

Could be that you go to your boss to ask for a raise.

So, you want an increase in pay for work that you do.

And imagine that he’s not in control of these decisions.

So, the guy above him is in control. Your boss’s boss is in control.

The boss of your boss, the guy above your boss, is the one who decides these things.

And your boss could say to you, “Look, I’m not in control of this. You’re looking for a raise from me when you can’t get one from me. You’re barking up the wrong tree. There’s nothing I can do. You(‘ve) gotta talk to the person above me. You’re barking up the wrong tree. You’ve come to the wrong place for this information.”

So as usual guys let’s go through and do a listen and repeat exercise.

Practice your pronunciation, guys.

Listen and repeat exactly as I say these sentences.

Let’s go.

Listen and Repeat:

Barking up.
Barking up.
Barking up.

The wrong tree.
The wrong tree.
The wrong tree.

I’m barking up the wrong tree.
You’re barking up the wrong tree.
He’s barking up the wrong tree.
She’s barking up the wrong tree.
We’re barking up the wrong tree.
They’re barking up the wrong tree.
It’s barking up the wrong tree.

Good job guys. Good job.

So, now, as usual, I’ll talk a little bit about the pronunciation and connected speech aspect of those previous sentences that we went through.

One thing to note is that “barking”, “barking” can be pronounced as “barkin'”, “barkin'”.

I’ve done a video on this on YouTube where words ending -ING, the -ING sound will often be pronounced as -IN’, -IN’.

So, it kind of gets turned into a schwa sound followed by an N, -IN’.

So, listen then repeat, “barking” and “barkin'” five times, guys.

Listen and repeat:

Barking – Barkin’ x 5

And then when we link words that end in that -IN’, when the -ING sound has been modified, when we link those words to words that start with a vowel you going to hear it as “barkin’_up”,

So, that N joins on to the front of the word “up”. “barkin’_up”.

So, listen and repeat after me these few sentences, guys, where I will link these words first with the well pronounced -ING, -ing_up, and then I’m gonna do it with “-in’_up”.

Listen and repeat:

Barking_up – Barkin’_up.
Looking_up – Lookin’_up.
Walking_up – Walkin’_up.
Going_up – Goin’_up.
Coming_up – Comin’_up.
Standing_up – Standin’_up.
Jumping_up – Jumpin’_up.

Good job guys. That’s it for this episode.

But before we finish I want to mention that if you guys want to learn English even faster make sure that you go to the Aussie English website and sign up to be a member.

So, go to and click Learn English Faster.

You’ll get access to all of the bonus content for these Expression Episodes, where I have specifically designed exercises to teach you vocab, in the substitution and phrasal verb exercise, I teach you the pronunciation and connected speech stuff that we go over.

So, I specifically designed exercises to teach you to do that like a native speaker.

And then, we also cover grammar and slang.

So, if you want to learn English faster, I definitely recommend signing up for the Supporter Pack, signing up to be a member.

It costs just one dollar a try. Give it a go!

On top of that, you’ll get access to the video and mini course that talks about converting words ending -ING into -IN’.

So, there’s a video on YouTube where I teach you that one simple tip to sound more like an Australian.

And if you sign up to be a member you also get access to five or six more bonus MP3s that take you through a simple step by step approach to learn to make those pronunciation changes when you speak naturally.

So, I really recommend signing up, guys. Give it a go.

Let me know what you think. And I’ll see you soon.

I hope you guys have a great week.

Catch ya!

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