My late wife was known to take on projects that others seem to stay away from because the projects required too much research, trial and error, learning or were overall too cumbersome, that only perseverance will lead to success. She had this mantra that translates to english roughly "other do what they know how to, I do what I want".

I know the nuances in latin are very specific. This phrase is sort of celebratory phrase to say after overcoming hardship, after others have doubt you when in the end you reached your goals. It's to say others stay in their comfort zone and do what they already master, whereas I push the boundary and manage to do whatever I can imagine.

Although it might sound belittling to others, it's only meant to characterise the process, transforming imagination into reality, creating and innovating, and being proud to be able to do that.

Our bloodline ends here, no children to carry the name. I would still like to honour her memory and create a solid brass family crest with that sentence on it, not because its easy, but because its hard. I would like to hear your interpretation of that sentence in latin, maybe also the same but in plural "others do what they know how to, we do what we want"

-Old man Johnny

2 Answers 2


I'd say simply (with a backtranslation to English):

Alii faciunt quod possunt,
ego facio quod volo.

"Others do what they can,
I do what I want."

I wanted to retain the parallelism of the English, contrasting what others (alii) and I (ego) do. I put the details ("what they can", "what I want") into simple relative clauses.

The verb facere is a decent general translation for "do". You may also want to play on Horace's famous line (Odes 3.30) which sprang to mind upon reading your question:

Exegi monumentum aere perennius
"I erected a memorial more durable than brass"

However, I feel that the verb exigere has many meanings and it is all too easy for a reader to misconstrue the intent. This is why I opted for the more straightforward facere instead.

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    An alternative for concision, "Alii quod possunt, ego quod volo facio." Commented Apr 8 at 20:55

A straightforward translation would be: alii faciunt quod facere sciunt; ego, quod facere volo. However, for a motto, I would respectfully recommend to condense the thought rather thoroughly, and would suggest, for example:

Non quia possum, sed quia volo.

which literally translates to “[I do it] not because I can, but because I want to.”

If you want to preserve the dichotomy other people/me, then you could also say: Alii, quod possunt; ego, quod volo = “Others [do] what they can, I, what I want.”

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