Let's see if you can work it out for/by yourself

kenny4528

Senior Member
Mandarin, Taiwan
Hi there, the following are the lines from Stardust:

Tristan: You know you sort of - glitter sometimes. I've just noticed it. Is it... Is it normal?
Yvaine: Let's see if you can work it out for yourself. What do stars do?
Tristan: Hmm... Attract trouble?
Tristan: [grinning] All right, I'm sorry. Let me... Do I get another guess? Is it: Do they know exactly how to annoy a boy called Tristran Thorn?
May I ask why for is used here instead of by? By youself sounds better to me in this dialogue, do you agree?
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi Kenny,

    Let's see if you can work it out for yourself. What do stars do?
    There's a subtle difference between for yourself and by yourself in this context.

    Doing something for yourself is in contrast to having someone else do it for you.

    Doing it by yourself is in contrast to doing it in the company of lots of other people.

    There is some overlap; the difference isn't as clear as I have suggested above, but I hope the distinction I have drawn explains the emphases in the expressions.

    You could, indeed, change for yourself to by yourself in the sentence, as you suggest, but it would slightly alter the emphasis.
     

    kenny4528

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, Taiwan
    Hi Kenny,



    There's a subtle difference between for yourself and by yourself in this context.

    Doing something for yourself is in contrast to having someone else do it for you.

    Doing it by yourself is in contrast to doing it in the company of lots of other people.

    There is some overlap; the difference isn't as clear as I have suggested above, but I hope the distinction I have drawn explains the emphases in the expressions.

    You could, indeed, change for yourself to by yourself in the sentence, as you suggest, but it would slightly alter the emphasis.
    Very helpful, thank you for enlightening~
     
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