I wonder what is the meaning of for in this sentence. "Elizabeth suddenly sees Darcy for who he is" please explain the meaning with some examples. how can I say that sentence in another way? Bahman

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    'See someone/something for who he is/what it is' is an idiom for 'see someone as they really are' / 'see something as it really is', not as he/it may appear at first glance. There are related expressions, I'd say less appropriate: 'love someone as he really is' has been used for 'love someone just as he is'. An attempt to pin a meaning on 'for' here would be, in my view, unprofitable. Dec 12, 2014 at 15:54
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    I love the fact that with just one sentence, we all know what book you are reading. :D
    – IchabodE
    Dec 12, 2014 at 19:26
  • @MBurke One of Mark Hebden's Inspector Pel novels? Dec 12, 2014 at 20:47
  • Yes, @MBurke , no doubt about it. Except that line ain't Jane Austen.
    – pazzo
    Dec 13, 2014 at 8:47
  • 'Elizabeth suddenly sees the true Darcy' is another way to put it.
    – pazzo
    Dec 13, 2014 at 8:49

2 Answers 2


This is indeed a strange idiom, for it appears extremely redundant (if you can see someone, how can you not see them for who they are?). I expect this is particularly vexing to those not used to English as their first language.

The meaning of this phrase is to understand a person's true nature, or at least certain important attributes of their personality. It is usually employed when a person's actions suddenly reveal something about them which a another person might not have assumed based on their previous knowledge and/or assumptions. Usually, it refers to a negative quality which a person might want to keep hidden, or which might be surprising because it is not how a presumably good person would act. Frequently, it implies a drastic change in how a person feels about another, and whether their relationship can continue as it was.

Other ways to phrase this might be "Elizabeth suddenly understood Darcy's true nature." A more specific "and arbitrary" example might be "Darcy's treatment of the child made Elizabeth see him in a different light," or "Elizabeth felt that Darcy's behavior this evening had revealed his true colors."


It's the same for = as = like = in the manner of usage as...

I want you as/for a friend, not [as/for] a lover

OP's example could be replaced (somewhat less idiomatically) by...

She sees him as [who] he is

...but note that syntactically we can't discard who (or what, particularly with an inanimate referent) in the for version.


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