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Who Would 'Bring Sand to the Beach'?

A dump truck brings another load of sand to an eroded beach in North Wildwood, New Jersey. A bulldozer spreads out sand, May 24, 2022. (File Photo)
A dump truck brings another load of sand to an eroded beach in North Wildwood, New Jersey. A bulldozer spreads out sand, May 24, 2022. (File Photo)
Who Would 'Bring Sand to the Beach'?
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And now, Words and Their Stories, from VOA Learning English.

On this program we talk about common expressions in the English language. We give examples. And we talk about when and how to use them.

Today we talk about pointless, useless actions. And we have a very descriptive expression to help us do that. For this expression, let’s go to the beach!

For a beach trip, we bring several things that can make the trip more enjoyable. For example, a beach towel makes sitting on the sand more comfortable. Some people choose to bring a beach chair. And a beach umbrella protects you from the sun’s powerful rays. Swimming in the ocean can really make you hungry. So many people bring a cooler for food and drinks.

Making sandcastles on the beach is a fun activity. So, bringing sand-digging tools -- like a shovel -- and a bucket is a good idea. But you do not need to bring the sand. Most beaches have a lot of that already!

And that brings us to today’s expression: bringing sand to the beach.

Bringing sand to the beach describes actions that are pointless and unnecessary. The actions are futile. This means serving no purpose.

To bring sand to the beach can also mean overkill. Overkill means to do or have more than is necessary or useful.

Often when using this expression, we say "like." For example, bringing flowers to the opening of a florist is like bringing sand to the beach.

Now, let’s hear this expression used between two friends. They talk about an upcoming party and what they are bringing.

A: Hey, Ingrid’s yearly party is tomorrow. What are you bringing?

B: I made a great music playlist. The songs I picked will definitely get people up and dancing. What about you?

A: I thought I’d bring my famous spinach dip.

B: Um, your spinach dip? You know, I wouldn’t bring food. Ingrid always makes too much food. And she is such a good cook. Bringing food to her party is like bringing sand to the beach.

A: Well, I know Ingrid makes lots of great food. But she doesn’t make my spinach dip. Every party needs spinach dip!

B: I’ve tasted your spinach dip. No party needs that.

A: Ouch, that is so cold.

B: Why don’t you bring some balloons? Everyone likes balloons.

We usually use like bringing sand to the beach when bringing something to a location is unnecessary. But you can also say the same idea with different objects and locations.

For example, I could also say it is like bringing a sandwich to a restaurant. With this example, the meaning goes one step further. It also means that what you are bringing (the sandwich) is of lesser quality than what you would find at the location (the restaurant).

And that’s all the time we have for this Words and Their Stories.

Until next time … I’m Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

towel – n. a cloth or piece of absorbent paper for wiping or drying

comfortable – adj. giving physical ease

cooler – n. a container for keeping food or drinks cool

sandcastle – n. a small model of a castle or other structure that is made with sand on a beach

shovel – n. a tool with a long handle and broad scoop used to lift and throw loose material (as dirt or snow)

bucket – n. a usually round container with a handle for holding or carrying liquids or solids

futile – adj. serving no useful purpose

florist – n. a person who sells flowers and houseplants

dip – n. a sauce or soft mixture into which food may be dipped


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