I think I heard this conversation an ESL podcast. Two people are talking about the girls they have romantic interests in.

One person said, "what do you see in her anyway. She's a little chubby."

Does the phrase 'see in someone' used here mean that find someone attractive, as in "how do you find her attractive"?

  • It should be "what" not "where." – mkennedy Apr 4 '19 at 20:03
  • @mkennedy fixed it. thanks – Joji Apr 4 '19 at 20:11
  • "What do you see in her?" means "Why are you interested in her?" Same difference, as the poet said. – Robusto Apr 4 '19 at 20:28

Effectively, there's an unstated that phrase:

What do you see in her that you find attractive?

It can be used in other situations, with different implicit phrases.

You're eating at Nando's again? I don't know what you see in that place.
I don't know what you see in that place that causes you to eat there so often

You're listening to early Genesis? What do you see in it?
What do you see in it that makes it worth listening to?

(Yes, the expression is also used for things you don't see)

I see you have a full collection of Police Academy. What do you see in those films?
What do you see in those films that makes it worth owning them, and thus presumably re-watching them frequently?

It generally expresses incredulity or scepticism.


It is, as you have guessed, basically a short-hand for "what (positive/desirable/attractive) (features/attributes/qualities) do you see in (another person)?" A few dictionaries have definitions of the phrasal verb "see in" including, for example, Macmillan, if you want more detail.

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