This came out of a casual conversation with a friend - and now all three sound correct to us; could someone please confirm if it’s correct to say - 1. I observed this about you, or 2. I observed this in you, or 3. I observed this of you


observe can mean "see, detect" or "say something in regard to". With of I'd take you to mean the latter, with in the former, and with about either.

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  • Ahh, that means all three are correct; just different contexts? – Dee Mar 11 '19 at 19:26
  • @Dee: Yes, that is right. – TRomano Mar 11 '19 at 19:34
  • I don't think the distinction is absolute though. In the following example I would take "observe" to mean "see, detect" rather than "say something in regard to": "I believe that scientific theories are a means of going -- somewhat mysteriously -- beyond what we are able to observe of the physical world, penetrating into the structure of nature" (via Corpus of Contemporary American English; original source (link broken)). – Fang Jing Mar 5 at 1:22
  • @Fang Jing: what we are able to observe of the physical world can be reordered: we are able to observe what of the physical world. The preposition "of" there is not part of the verb phrase but belongs to the object-phrase. Compare I was able to hear some of what she said. and Of what she said I was able to hear some. The verb there is not "hear of" but "hear". Some of what..." You can substitute "that part" for "what" in your example about scientific theories. "... that part ... of the physical world..." – Tim Mar 6 at 12:34

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