Imagine a person who has agreed to do you a favor but he won't do it unless you are physically present in front of him/her. You couldn't expect him to do your work if you tell them once and leave them so they do it when they get time. In my mother-tongue, it's called 'sitting on one's head and make them work'(translated). I was wondering if there's one in English too.

EDIT: I realize sitting on one's head might get misconstrued as to be equal to someone's who is in-charge but actually the people are at same position of responsibility and the person (who agreed to do the favor) knows exactly what to do and how to do the said thing.

EDIT 2: The person who has agreed to do the favor is probably reluctant to do it or just forgets it or simply lacks the sense of urgency, thereby needs to be accompanied by the person asking the favor, so doesn't forget about it and do it instantly before anything else.

  • 3
    There's a similarly physical idiom, to be on someone's back, as in "We've got 24 hours to solve the case and the DA's on my back!". It's more to do with being overbearingly and distractingly critical though, and I'm not sure that's what you want.
    – JHCL
    Oct 14, 2015 at 9:16
  • @JHCL - Off-topic but how do you put a link in a comment? Someone told me once but I've forgotten. Thanks. Oct 14, 2015 at 9:37
  • markdown help here
    – JHCL
    Oct 14, 2015 at 9:40
  • Thanks - it hadn't occurred to me to search for markdown.Very useful link. testing the markdown Oct 14, 2015 at 9:47

3 Answers 3


Breathing down one's neck can qualify perhaps.

breathe down (someone's) neck:

  1. To threaten by proximity, especially by pursuing closely.

  2. To watch or monitor closely, often annoyingly: The boss was breathing down my neck all morning.

Example: If everyone keeps breathing down my neck, how can I get my work done?


Interesting question. How about "He won't do it unless supervised"?

Or: "You need to keep an eye on him, or he won't do it."

Fig. to watch someone or something; to monitor someone or something closely.


  • 1
    Edited the question. Hope it's more clear now. The person does not need any supervision as such. 'Supervisor' conjures up an image of a person of authority in my mind which is not the case. Oct 14, 2015 at 8:31
  • I agree that supervision implies authority, but sort of disagree that just because a person knows exactly what to do they don't need supervision. They may know the proper way of doing things, but be lazy, or like to cut corners. In this case supervision will help. That's why I wrote "He won't do it", not "He couldn't do it unless supervised". In your scenario, why would the person not do it, unless the "supervisor" is there?
    – A.P.
    Oct 14, 2015 at 8:42
  • Yes, you are right. I missed that 'won't' for some reason, but I would like to add that the person probably is reluctant to do it or just forgets it or simply lacks the sense of urgency. Think of them as colleagues, nobody can order/force the other to do something. If anything, it's probably more of a request. Oct 14, 2015 at 14:44

A similar phrase in English is to stand over someone (or something):

  1. To watch or supervise someone or something closely: My boss is always standing over me.


  1. Watch or supervise closely, as in I hate to cook when you're standing over me. [First half of 1300s]

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