Some people will advocate a policy, like higher taxes, and then try to get out of it themselves. This is hypocrisy (Heuchelei).

Others will gladly do themselves what they advocate for others. These people "practice what they preach."

How do you say "practice what you preach" in German?

7 Answers 7


The expression I use is:

Mit gutem/leuchtendem Vorbild vorangehen

Closer to the given proverb we may also use:

Nicht nur reden, sondern handeln!

  • 2
    Similar to "practise what you preach", but in my opinion the emphasis is different: If you ask that someone should "mit gutem Beispiel vorangehen", this doesn't necessarily imply that that person has "preached" anything. Sep 9, 2011 at 14:43

It's not a perfect match, but you can

den Worten Taten folgen lassen.


We have a phrase for the exact opposite:

Wasser predigen und Wein trinken

  • I would also vote this - if it wasn't the /opposite/ of the OPs question :)
    – axk
    Sep 14, 2011 at 6:03
  • There is this great think called negation. "Er predigt nicht öffentlich Wasser und trinkt heimlich Wein" works.
    – hajef
    Jul 1, 2019 at 12:55
  • But *Wasser predigen und Wein trinken" is normally used to criticize that behaviour and therefore both proverbs do have the same meaning in regard to what is good and what is bad. Jul 4, 2019 at 7:21

Seine Worte/Das Gesagte leben/vorleben.


Keine leeren Versprechungen machen

leere Versprechungen is here a common german phrase, esp. for politicians ;)

  • This is somewhat different. If you preach then you don't really promise anything, but advertise some ideas. Sep 11, 2011 at 9:33
  • 1
    @hendrik what the difference between leere Versprechungen und keine Taten folgen lassen then? Taten implies more than a way of living in politics?! ... Arent most relgious sermons full of promises? ;) "You are a better human if you live this way, i promise you" If you talk about lowering taxes, leere Versprechungen is imo much more common and connotes Heuchelei perfectly (Oxymoron)
    – Hauser
    Sep 11, 2011 at 10:16
  • Leere Versprechungen is a perfect example of Heuchelei indeed, but if someone says "You are a better human if you live this way, I promise you", then he does not promise that he'll live that way, does he? Sep 11, 2011 at 10:18
  • @hendrik lol thats probably the logical explanation/plea why priests actually not have higher moral standards than average joe. But of course if you climb onto a high rostrum and preach you imply to live that way as a priest...sry but thats linguistic hairsplitting to me ;) Following your reasoning none of priests in recent past would had to quit because of personal immoral lapses. Of course preaching carries personal moral behaviour and way of living. imo you mix up preaching with saying something
    – Hauser
    Sep 11, 2011 at 10:48
  • OK, I won't deny being a Haarspalter. But let me give an example: If I hear "Keine leeren Versprechungen machen", then I think of someone saying "I promise, tomorrow I'll take care of that" or of a politician promising before the elections that he'll employ more teachers. If I hear "practice what you preach", then I think of a situation like this (which I find quite different): a politician says that we all need to save energy to preserve our planet; then I'll expect him not to use his BMW to go and buy stamps. Sep 11, 2011 at 11:36

Ganz schlicht:

zu tun was man sagt.


I would translate "These people practice what they preach." with

Diese Leute leben, was sie lehren.

  • +1 Good one, but imo only in a somewhat "esoterical" context, where there is some reference to actual "teachings" in a narrower sense. I think it would sound a bit grandiloquent in the context of e.g. a political debate.
    – Mac
    Sep 27, 2011 at 13:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.