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I have two people (e.g: Sally and James). I want to damage the reputation of Sally in front of James, but I don't want to use "in front of" if it means that literally.

"Smear" is the word that I have to use in order to achieve that definition. So, I would say:

I created the stealing-money scene to smear Sally ____ James.

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    In a context like this, I don't think you'd really need to worry about in front of being interpreted as "literally" in front of.
    – J.R.
    Aug 20, 2018 at 19:29

2 Answers 2

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You did it to make Sally look bad in front of James or you did it to smear Sally. It wouldn't be ungrammatical to include "in front of James" in the sentence with smear, but it wouldn't be idiomatic.

If James is not there to behold the money-stealing scene, but is the intended audience of your smear campaign, you did it to make Sally look bad in the eyes of James.

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  • Are you suggesting that "to make Sally look bad in the eyes of James" is better than "smear Sally in the eyes of James"? - I'm doing a revision for the story, and I came across it. Jan 21, 2019 at 17:46
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    Yes, I'm suggesting that it is much better, because "smear {someone} in the eyes of {someone else}" is not something a native speaker would say, any more than we would say "praise {someone} in the eyes of {someone else}". The verbs that we would use are "make someone look|appear|seem {adjective} in the eyes of {someone else}"
    – TimR
    Jan 21, 2019 at 18:50
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You can use in / to the eyes of.

Definition:

In someone's view or opinion

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  • It is great :) I will use "in the eyes of" since it fits the situation I intend. Aug 20, 2018 at 20:38
  • @TasneemZh You can use both "in" or "to".
    – helen
    Aug 20, 2018 at 20:40

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