It doesn't sound idiomatic, but semantically it doesn't sound incorrect.

The verb follow can have the following meaning:

To take as a model or precedent; imitate: followed my example and resigned.

Therefore, you can say "follow his actions". Or is it the case. I usually see things like "follow their lead", "follow their example", "follow them", but "follow their actions" is usually meant as "observe their actions".

So can we say:

Don't just imitate people, don't just follow their actions, follow their beliefs, do whatever you want to do, believe in what you believe.

It really doesn't sound right, because people don't use it like that, but seems to be semantically correct.

  • 2
    I'm going to walk through this room full of traps now. Follow my actions (exactly), if you want to survive. It sounds fine to me. Mar 9, 2019 at 19:24

2 Answers 2


Very short answer, as there's really nothing extra to say (and @Jason Bassford already answered in a comment).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with your use of 'follow their actions'.

Separate issue: your sentence is a little ambiguous as written.

I read

... don't just follow their actions, follow their beliefs.


... don't just follow their actions. DO follow their beliefs.

On a second reading, I don't think that's what you mean. I think you mean 'don't just follow their actions AND/OR beliefs'. You need some sort of conjunction to clarify the meaning. While there are occasions where, as a matter mainly of literary style, you can omit conjunctions, you can only do it when it does not introduce ambiguity.

I could not understand his philosophy, his fundamental belief system.

In the sentence above I have omitted a conjunction, and it is acceptable. There is no ambiguity, and 'his fundamental belief system' is expanding on 'his philosophy'.

In your sentence I think you need a conjunction, and arguably to split the sentence clearly into two contrasting parts with a full-stop or semi-colon.

Don't just imitate people, don't just follow their actions and beliefs; do whatever you want to do, believe in what you believe.


While "follow his actions" is semantically correct, and certainly something you can say, it may not be the most idiomatic way to express this idea. The more common expression "follow his example" seems to cover the situation you describe, since "example" is usually interpreted to mean "what they do".

Mother: Look at your brother! He doesn't go out with his friends every night -- no, he stays home and studies! You should follow his example

Another common expression is "do what they do" (or "don't do what they do").

Think of the mindless legions who spend their lives in the empty pursuit of *stuff. Don't do what they do. If you are to work, at least work for something meaningful to you.

Although there is a certain amount of irony in telling people not to do what people tell them to do, as satirized in this scene from Monty Python's 1979 film Life of Brian, but that's a different topic.

This is how I might phrase your sentence:

Don't just imitate people; don't just do what they do, or believe what they believe. Do what you want to do, and believe what you want to believe.

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