Can't see the wood for the trees – English Idiom – Online English Lessons

August 3, 2011 By Angela Boothroyd

If you can’t see the wood for the trees, you are unable to understand a situation clearly because you are too concerned with small unimportant details, and you can’t see the whole picture.

Mainly British English.

US English – can’t see the forest for the trees

Exampes of use:

1. News item: Politicians really can’t see the wood for the trees with their plans to sell off England’s woodlands.

2. I need some help with this maths problem – I can’t see the wood for the trees.

3. Many people believe that global warming is a myth and that scientists and governments can’t see the wood for the trees.

4. We couldn’t see the wood for the trees with our plans for our retirement, so we hired a financial advisor.

5. I’ve spent so much time on this essay that now I can’t see the wood for the trees. I’ll try again in the morning.

Can you use this expression in a sentence?

Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t see the wood for the trees?

Image © Dominic Alves