Abby had done well by Nathan

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redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Abby had done well by Nathan. Gotten him on a soy-based formula that briefly settled his finicky stomach

Source: Alone, D.D.Warren
Hi,Abby was Nathan's nanny. I don't understand the usage of "by" in this example. Abby had been doing a good job dealing with Nathan, but "by"sounds like Nathan had done something good to Abby.
 
  • redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Let's say I went in to see the new Batman movie with low expectations and I came out pleasantly surprised with Ben Affleck's performance as the new Batman. I originally thought Christian Bale's version would be a tough act to follow but the new version was definitely up there.

    Is it okay to say "Ben Affleck has done well by the new Batman"?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    First, it is "Abby had done well by Nathan. [Abby had] Gotten him [Nathan] on a soy-based formula that briefly settled his finicky stomach." = "Abby had provided a much needed service to Nathan.

    Then we could have:

    A: "So John took that job with the International Bank that Harry suggested?"
    B(i): "Yes, they have done well by him (John)." -> the International Bank have treated him well.
    B(ii): "Yes, Harry did well by him (John)." -> Harry did John a valuable service.

    Also:
    A: "I see old Mr Davis has died. He was such a good boss."
    B: "Yes, he always did well by everyone. Such a gentleman!" -> he always treated people fairly.

    Your example seems to lack the idea of a generous or fair service or favour passing from one person to another.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Does the subject that treats you well have to be a person/place/organization?

    I came across this post at a bike forum.
    I have a Sirrus from a couple of years ago (just the plain version, not the Comp) that I used as a commuter (it is in semi-retirement right now). I was extremely pleased with it and it did well by me rain or shine commuting year round. My one major complaint was that the front derailer was mounted in such a way that I couldn't put full fenders on it.
    Would you find it unacceptable to see sentences like "The joint supplement does well by me. It stays in my bag at all times. I can't go a day without it!"
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The subject that treats you well does not have to be a person/place/organization. The bike example is a good one.

    Your example is technically correct but it has a difficulty caused by the subject. A joint supplement is designed to make you feel well and in the example "well" is used in the sense of a good deed/service. Therefore, in the mind of the reader, the health meaning and service meaning become confused and the whole thing sounds strange.

    If, for example, the company that produced the joint supplement were called "Parkers", you would be OK to say, "Parkers does well by me. The joint supplement stays in my bag at all times."

    or, to choose another product: "The woolly hat does well by me. It stays in my bag at all times.".
     
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