Why would the answer for:

When you first meet someone, you should shake them ______ the hands.

It's by and not with; the by sounds cumbersome to me, though by using the hands sounds ok to me.

While here says that with is used when tools or parts of the body mentioned.

He pushed the door with his foot.

Notice those with his foot and by the hands, how could they be different?

The site also confuse me even more by stating by hand means handmade, made by a person, not by a machine.

  • 2
    I think that page is not quite precise enough. Yes, you usually say "with" if you are using a body part like a tool (as in "I closed the door with my elbow") but there are idiomatic phrases in which body parts are used are used with "by", usually meaning by means of in a generic sense. For example, when we say a sweater was made by hand we mean "by use of the hands", not literally "using my hand". Likewise, when we say "The musician played the piece by ear" we mean that he learned it by listening to it, not that he literally played the piano with his ear.
    – stangdon
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 16:08
  • 1
    Also note that the sentence in the question is slightly wrong itself - you shake someone by the hand, not by the hand_s_. Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 22:54
  • @stangdon what a good comment! Then, what is the difference between 'He pushed the door with his hand' and 'He pushed the door by his hand'? I think that the former is describing he is using his foot or body pushing the door with his hand, but on the contrary the latter seems to be only describing that only his hand is pushing the door. What do you think about my opinion?
    – GKK
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 20:25
  • 1
    @EvaristeGalois - "He pushed the door with his hand" is the normal phrasing, meaning that he used his hand to push the door. "He pushed the door by his hand" doesn't really make sense and is very nonfluent. If I heard it, I would think the speaker meant "He pushed the door that was next to his hand"; it doesn't mean that his hand was pushing the door.
    – stangdon
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 15:19
  • @stagdon 'By' means so similar to 'next to'.
    – GKK
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


With refers to your hand. By refers to the other person's hand.

So, "I shook him with my hand" might mean you took hold of his ear or his foot and shook him. "I shook him by the hand." Means I took hold of his hand and shook it.

Similarly, "I opened the door with my foot," but "I opened the door by the handle."

But idiomatically you would simply say "I shook his hand."

  • 3
    +1, and special props for that last sentence. If I could add a footnote, using the O.P.'s sentence structure, I would probably say, "When you first meet someone, you should shake hands with them.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 16:48

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