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I really don't understand the usage or the meaning of "he was there for" in this sentence :

Tony shook his head, as though he couldn’t wrap his mind around events he was there for, and partially responsible as well.

I understand the phrase "be there for somebody" means "support" somebody; but is it also ok to say "be there for events"?? or I just misunderstood it?

Here is the context:

Tony, the Iron Man, and the Cap fell out; Bruce tried to convince Tony to contact Cap,as Thanos is coming, they are facing the greatest danger in history.

Here is the sentence in the book:

“It’s not that easy,” Tony sheepishly admitted. Realizing, he looked at Bruce again, a touch of shame entering his usually cocky attitude. “God, we haven’t caught up in a spell, have we?”

“No.” Bruce tried to hide the feeling of betrayal from his voice.

Tony shook his head, as though he couldn’t wrap his mind around events he was there for, and partially responsible as well. “The Avengers broke up. Cap and I fell out hard. We’re not on speaking terms.”

“Tony, listen to me.” Bruce felt like he was now dealing with two kids who had a schoolyard fight. The magnitude of what they faced was beyond a falling-out between teammates. “Thor’s gone,” he stressed. “Thanos is coming. It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to or not.”

The Avengers 3

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In both the figurative and literal sense, "to be there for" means to be present, implying that the presence is directed towards a specific end (i.e. for something).

"I am here fore you" --> My emotional presence is intended to support you "I was there for it" --> My physical presence at the event allowed me to witness it.

To answer your question:

is it also ok to say "be there for events"?

Yes, this is the literal meaning.

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  • So, can I paraphrase the sentence as: Tony used to support the events, and he was also partially responsible for these events; now he shook his head, as if he could not understand or acceptant what he had been though. – user86301 Jun 20 '19 at 8:52
  • no, you are mixing literal and figurative meanings of "to be there for <something>" in this case. – Bruce Becker Jun 20 '19 at 8:53
  • but you said it ok to say "be there for events", it really confusing now. – user86301 Jun 20 '19 at 8:57
  • does it simply mean: Tony had experienced the events, and he was also partially responsible for these events; now he shook his head, as if he could not understand or acceptant what he had been though. – user86301 Jun 20 '19 at 8:59
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The phrasing is clumsy and not something you should be encouraged to use in regular speech or writing. It doesn’t mean support in this case, it refers to the situation and what lead up to it.

Iron Man is having trouble dealing with the fact that he and Captain America are on the outs, and the various causes for that. He can’t quite understand how it happened, even though he was there for it.

Bruce’s response is that whatever differences they have are petty and irrelevant in the face of the upcoming threat. He doesn’t know a brainwashed and mind-controlled Bucky had killed Iron Man’s parents and Captain America had kept this from him and defended Bucky, but if he had know, his response would have been the same.

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I believe Bruce explained it perfectly. The meaning of the phrase 'he was there for' in that context literally means that he was there when the problem occured (or was part of it).

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  • Hi, welcome to ELL! We expect our answers to be detailed and explanatory. While your answer does address the question directly, it is a little partial and seems like it could use some more explanation. – Eddie Kal Nov 30 '20 at 3:44

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