The standard form of the Socratic dialogue, which Euthyphro follows, has Socrates interrogating someone who claims to be an expert on a certain subject—in this case, Euthyphro on holiness. Rather than doubt his interlocutor and present direct objections, Socrates goes along with him, asking his interlocutor to teach him what he knows. Socrates then asks his interlocutor to clarify certain points on which he, Socrates, is uncertain, and his interlocutor's attempts to make himself clear force the interlocutor to realize his position is deeply flawed. (In modern times, we have been entertained by seeing this same basic approach mimicked by fictional defense attorneys in numerous courtroom dramas such as the movie Anatomy of a Murder and the TV series Matlock.)

The irony lies in Socrates' stated belief that his interlocutor is very wise, when both we and Socrates know that the man is ignorant and will shortly be proven so. At the beginning of the dialogue, Socrates flatters Euthyphro into teaching him about holiness, saying that it will help Socrates in his case against Meletus. Again, at the end of the dialogue, Socrates complains that Euthyphro is not teaching him what he needs to know. It is philosophically important that Socrates should structure his discussion thus: Euthyphro as teacher then becomes responsible for the direction of the argument. Also, it is important that Socrates not simply tell Euthyphro that he is mistaken if Euthyphro is to learn anything. Instead, he must lead Euthyphro to recognize this himself by leading Euthyphro to acknowledge his own mistakes.