There is an old Indian Marathi saying (Mhan in marathi)

Jyacha karava bhala to mhanato majhach khara (Pronunciation: Jya-ch K-ra-v Bh-l, To Mh-n-to Ma-zch Kh-r)

It means

Those you try to help say that they are right.

The meaning is if you try to help someone, a certain category of people wouldn't think that you have helped them from literally dying or saved them from a big mess waiting to happen (usually in a organization or on the streets or at home too). They would see you as a wolf in sheep's clothing waiting to take advantage of you (and in the video even sue you).

So the meaning is howsoever you try help some particular people, they think in their mind that they are righteous in accusing you (putting you in trouble for taking advantage of them not helping them or actually messing you their problem more when you have literally helped them).

The question is, is there an equivalent saying in English for this phenomenon* or can anyone provide an informal saying that would be succinct?

*This can be said thankless job but it goes beyond that because ironically the person is just not being thankless, he/she is creating an adversity for the helper in return.

  • 4
    Is '[H]e says I am only right' intended to mean 'I alone am right', 'I am indeed right', 'I am merely right (but not given the respect I should be)' or something else? Sep 14, 2021 at 10:50
  • 1
    Would you please use caps for the I pronoun.
    – Lambie
    Sep 14, 2021 at 15:35
  • I think the idea is… “{The person you have tried to help} thinks that they are in the right [not needing help] and you are wrong for trying to help [or to change] them.” I think it is broadly along the lines of, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”
    – Carsogrin
    Sep 14, 2021 at 19:22
  • Do "those" and "he" fit together? I don't understand the connection between both propositions. Sep 15, 2021 at 6:10
  • @EdwinAshworth I'm pretty sure it means "I am right" (with an implication that the person they're speaking to isn't). The OP probably used "only" to add emphasis to the "I" as Marathi speakers often do (in Marathi, the "ach" at the end of a word can mean "only" or it can add emphasis, but "only" in English doesn't have the same function).
    – user
    Sep 15, 2021 at 21:45

8 Answers 8


Bite the hand that feeds you

This idiom is used by an observer to say that a party being helped attacks the helper. (The observer has a sense of unfairness about the transaction. But there is probably not a sense that the disadvantaged attacker sees the feeding hand as taking an unfair advantage.)

Show ingratitude, turn against a benefactor. For example, The college gave me a scholarship, so I shouldn't bite the hand that feeds me and criticize its hiring policies. Used about 600 b.c. by the Greek poet Sappho, this metaphor of a dog biting its master was first recorded in English in 1711.

Source: The Free Dictionary

  • 3
    Just to add a usage note: “biting the hand that feeds you” usually implies that there is a longstanding relationship between giver and receiver, and also that the receiver is dependent on the giver. It would not be suitable to use this phrase to describe a case where you had returned someone’s lost wallet to them and they got angry with you; but it would be suitable for a situation where you allowed someone to stay in your home rent-free while they looked for a place to live, and they complained to you about the food.
    – KrisW
    Sep 14, 2021 at 15:34
  • 4
    I could imagine applying "bite the hand that feeds you" for returning a wallet to a stranger, even though there is no longstanding relationship. And please take a look at learningenglish.voanews.com/a/… . There are several examples where the proverb applies to a biter and hand who are strangers.
    – rajah9
    Sep 14, 2021 at 19:04
  • I think there is some degree of positive aspect to "bite the hand that feeds you", in that it is allowing other considerations to trump personal interest. For instance, Trump appointees that went against him could be said to be "biting the hand that feeds them". Sep 14, 2021 at 23:14
  • I would offer up "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink," but I don't think it captures the aspect of actually turning on you, just of ignoring the advice.
    – ttbek
    Sep 15, 2021 at 12:03

“No good deed [ever] goes unpunished.”

This is more general than how you described your phrase, because it might not be the person you helped who “punishes” you (you might say it when you get in trouble with someone else, instead).

In origin, this is a cynical reversal of either or both of these beliefs:

  • “No good deed goes unrewarded”
  • “No evil deed goes unpunished”

Strangely, I would not consider these as fixed idioms, unlike “no good deed goes unpunished”. They are common ideas, but I can’t recall hearing them expressed in those exact words.

  • 2
    I would say that "no good deed goes unrewarded" is a fixed idiom, just an older and somewhat outplayed one. There are plenty of older Google Books results for it in those exact words, for example. The "cynical reversal" is newer. Sep 14, 2021 at 15:10
  • @MishaLavrov I don’t doubt it, and my own quick Google search turned up several instances of both phrases in those words. But what I didn’t see, and am not aware of (but won't say it doesn’t exist), is some cultural touchstone, a Bible quote or a line in Shakespeare or something, that holds it to that form. Sep 14, 2021 at 15:16

“There’s no pleasing some people”

This saying that captures the idea of a person (or people) who would never thank you for helping them. It’s informal in tone, and is used in both American and British English.

This does not imply that the person would think of you as an enemy for helping you, only that if you do help them, they will just find something new to complain about.

  • 1
    Often rendered as "There's just no pleasing some people"
    – Kirt
    Sep 16, 2021 at 6:05

A particularly harsh English proverb along these lines appears in the following form in Wolfgang Mieder, A Dictionary of American Proverbs (1992):

Save a thief from the gallows and he'll be the first to cut your throat.

Versions of this proverb go very far back in English writing. Bartlett Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases from English Writings Mainly Before 1500 (1968), lists instances dating to circa 1300, in an entry worded as follows:

Deliver a thief from the gallow(s) and he hates you after

The sense of the expression is that a person of bad character is inherently ungrateful to would-be benefactors and exceedingly unlikely to reform if given another chance. James Kelly, A Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs: Explained and Made Intelligible to the English (1721) adds a real-life instance to his rendition of the proverb:

Buy a Thief from the Gallows, and he'll help to hang your self.

I knew a very worthy Clergyman in Scotland, who, by his Interest and Importunity, saved a Villain from the Gallows: And twelve Years after, he was the first that rabbled him, and the sorest upon him.

(A subsequent edition of Kelly's book (1818) reports that an English equivalent of the saying is "Put a snake in your bosom, and it will sting when it is warm.")

That such a person should repay kindness with unkindness is hardly surprising. And that such a person is—according to folk wisdom—unlikely to reform is evident in a kindred proverb that appears in Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings (1732):

The Thief is sorry he is to be hanged, but not that he is a Thief.

Oswald Dykes, English Proverbs, with Moral Reflexions (1713) devotes four pages of exposition to the proverb, including a more general discussion of ingratitude:

Save a Thief from Hanging, and he'll cut your Throat.


It [the proverb] is as severe a Lecture also against doing an unthankful Person a Kindness, as against saving a Thief from the Gallows. There is as much Imprudence in the one, as Danger in the other ; for nothing can engage an Ingrate against abusing his Benefactor, or a Thief unhang'd against cutting his Friend's Throat.

'Tis impossible to oblige an ungrateful Wretch ; so that Favours are but thrown away upon him, and lost for ever. If you respect him, he'll slight or revile you ; if you relieve him, he'll bring you into Trouble ; and if you save his Life, in short, he'll endanger yours for't. These are the Returns he usually makes his best Friends.

  • Nice one! I don't think I've ever heard it, and yet it's pretty clear what it means. Also, I have to wonder whether "Explained and Made Intelligible to the English" is meant to be a dig at the English or the Scottish... Sep 15, 2021 at 12:14

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

This is a common English expression that basically says that no matter whether you try to help or not, people are going to hate you for it, so you’re damned either way.

If you help, they will accuse you of belittling them, virtue signaling your own generosity, or even trying to harm them in some way.

If you don’t help, those very same people will accuse you of withholding or being indifferent to their suffering when you could have done something about it.

There’s no way to win in this situation (where “winning” in this context means having a person be appreciative of your efforts on their behalf).


You’re dealing with a “choosing beggar” (or “choosy beggar”)

I think my other answer is better, but I offer this for completeness. It’s more specific than your phrase, and may not be applicable.

It derives from the saying, “beggars can’t be choosers”, meaning that when someone freely offers you help, it is wrong to be critical about how the help is given. So a “choosing/choosy beggar” is someone who behaves badly in this way. They criticise how you helped them, expecting you to do more or to do it differently.


There's an old idiom, which I cannot find now in a quick search: "Help some people and they'll never forgive you". Applies where the person doesn't think you helped them correctly, doesn't believe your contribution really benefited them, or takes offense that your assistance was in conflict with the solution they believe wrongly was correct.

There may be applications, in current issues, for example, in trying to convince a family member to get a covid shot, when they've become convinced such shots are dangerous.


The notion of generally being suspicious of someone else's generosity can be captured with look a gift horse in the mouth

  • to look in a critical way at something that has been given to one
    I noticed the guitar wasn't made of real wood, but I didn't say anything because you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.