In the following sentence

I shall do my duty by him

What is the force of the preposition by. I think its force is that of agency, but the answer given in my book is direction. I don't know how Also is the usage of this preposition correct here?

If I write

I shall do my duty through him

Would it be grammatical?


through is not correct here, in that the meaning is different from by. See definition 8b in Merriam-Webster:

8b : on behalf of

// did right by his children

"I shall do my duty by him" is kind of like "I have an obligation to him, so I will do what I can to honor it."

through doesn't work because in this context it would mean something more like "I myself will not do what I have to, but instead I will have him do it for me."

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