In German, there's the idiom

[etwas/das] macht sich nicht von selbst

Typically someone who's about to do / currently doing / having done some activity will say this in a polemic or taunting way to another person

  • to either express that the other person should do that activity or
  • to express that the speaker is a little bit stressed about the activity

Is there such an idiom in English? If yes, how does it read?


The activity is typically something that (most) people do not like very much. Examples: cleaning, washing dishes, doing lengthy technical tasks manually

1 Answer 1


What kind of "activity" is this used for? Housework? Skydiving?

I ask because English does have a similar idiomatic expression for mundane activities. For example, if he's procrastinating, I might tell my son:

Hurry up and get your schoolwork done. Your homework isn't going to do itself.


For the third time, get your room cleaned up! That bed isn't going to make itself.

As another example, next week, my wife might say something like:

We'll need to take the decorations down soon. These Christmas decorations won't put themselves back in the attic.

This is usually said when talking about some activity that is easy to put off, but I suppose it could be used in other contexts as well. For example, a skydiving instructor could use similar language to emphasize the importance of something:

Make sure you pull your rip cord after you jump out of the plane! That rip cord isn't going to pull itself...

Google books returns some results showing fictional characters making statements like these:

  • “Well, gotta go. The soil isn't going to aerate itself!”
  • “That paper isn't going to move itself, Elroy.”
  • “Well, supper isn't going to get itself on the table.”
  • “What are you doing? This stuff isn't going to take itself downstairs no matter how hard you look at it,” Charlie commented sarcastically.
  • I've added some example activities to my question too, but you were right with houshold things or homework. Great answer! :D While reading the first sentence I wondered why you've mentioned "skydiving" - continuing there was the aha! Dec 26, 2014 at 22:08

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