Do as you would be done by/to.

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
Japanese and Japan
To me it seems that “by” and “to” are not necessary to make sense in #1 and #2, respectively.
1. Do as you would be done by.
2. Do as you would be done to.

Why are they necessary?
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    If you said to me "Do as you would be done," the first thing I would have to work out is how I "would be done", how I like to be done, how I like other people to do me.
    That has no meaning relevant to this context.
    8769 - you might understand this better if you think of it in the biblical version:

    'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'.

    In other words, treat others as you would want them to treat you.

    But you probably knew this. I can only advise you to accept 'Do as you would be done by' as a fixed expression, pithier and neater in form than the previous two versions.



    Senior Member
    Japanese and Japan
    Thank you, Rover, for your explanation.

    Let me ask you:
    Is #1 a truncated version of "Do as you would be done by others"?
    Is #2 a truncated version of "Do as you would be done to yourself"?


    Senior Member
    **Literate** American English
    "Do as you would be done by" is an old expression that is always seen in that form. "To do by" means to treat someone a certain way, usually in the expectation that the treatment is reciprocal. Just Googling the phrase, I found:

    (1794) "It is my endeavour always to do by others, as I wish them to do by me."

    (mid-1800s?) Swear to me by Ursula's life, by your honor as a gentleman, to do by me as if I had never told you what I am about to tell.

    (1840) My principles are to do by everyone as I would wish others to do by me and I cannot then go far from the right path.

    Confucius said it in reverse: Don't do what you don't want someone to do to you. Here is the Wikipedia version.

    Perhaps his most famous teaching was the Golden Rule stated in the negative form, often called the silver rule:
    子貢問曰、有一言、而可以終身行之者乎。子曰、其恕乎、己所 不欲、勿施於人。Adept Kung asked: "Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?"
    The Master replied: "How about 'shu': never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?"

    Analects XV.24, tr. David Hinton
    < Previous | Next >