Reading through this paragraph, I wonder why the object to see is missing from as we see fit, even though the interpretation remains natural and smooth without it:

In 1783, Goethe wrote, “Nature is ever shaping new forms: what is, has never yet been; what has been, comes not again.” If this is true, then the aims and objectives for nature reserves are for us to define as we see fit. It is now generally accepted that there is no default setting for how the world should look. Natural means different things to different people. For some research workers, natural states are those that existed before the Europeans turned up and started clearing land, farming, grazing, and controlling wildfires. This definition is being revised now by other researchers because humans have been altering the world for much longer than the Europeans have been colonizing the world. Furthermore, some human-induced changes are impossible to change. In addition, we must realize that environmental and ecological changes are normal; the world is in permanent flux and few of our present major ecosystems are more than twelve thousand years old. Records from paleoecological studies seem to indicate that for any given place, over time there are many alternative, very different “natural” states.

How should I look at this clause? What is the correct reading?

I see two possible readings for this mysterious object omission, depending on where you insert the object or objects:

  1. “as we see them fit”
    (them = the aims and objectives for nature reserves = subject)

  2. “are for us to define them as we see them fit”
    (them = the aims and objectives for nature reserves = subject)

I think case 1 has a semantic error because the aims and objectives for nature reserves are not equal to those that we see fit. So phrases used in the subject should not be used literally in the as clause.

Case 2 is my personal opinion, but I'm not certain because I can't find any reference.

Please explain each case and suggest another possible reason with references so that I can better understand this odd pattern with a missing object.

I just want my opinion checked and wonder about others' opinions, but my previous questions like these have been closed and I got some warnings.

  • 3
    Before you fret any more, consider that "as we see fit" is not a clause but a preposition phrase with "as" as head and the clause "we see fit" as its complement
    – BillJ
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 18:50
  • I know 'A prepositional phrase' is a group of words consisting of a preposition, its object, and any words that modify the object. Therefore, a preposition should not be followed by the verb like "see" from as we see fit. I can't understand your explanation (preposition "as")
    – dongyoungkim
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 18:56
  • 6
    see fit is a phrase meaning consider it correct or acceptable (to do something). So the aims and objectives [...] are for us to define in a way we consider correct or acceptable. Commented May 26, 2021 at 19:26
  • 1
    And, of course, Goethe wrote in German; this is a translation. Commented May 26, 2021 at 19:47
  • 1
    Note that fit is an adverb (or possibly an adjective) not a verb here.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 23:02

2 Answers 2


As Colin Fine pointed out in a comment, the word "fit" is not a verb here, it's an adjective meaning "good, appropriate". So if the phrase can be expanded to anything, it's

"for us to define as we see that it is fit"

(it = "dummy pronoun" meaning our act of defining them a certain way).

"See fit" is an established phrase, though (something like a "phrasal verb", although I don't think it quite fits the definition of a phrasal verb), so it's correct without any expanding.


  • Also see can be better understood as think or, even better, deem.
    – TypeIA
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 14:33

I think you misunderstand the sentence. A more condensed version would be

"The aims and objectives are for us to define."

That is, we define the aims and objectives. (It isn't given from outside, it's us who can make the decision what the aims and objectives are going to be.)

What kind of aims and objectives? The aims and objectives for nature reserves.

How do we define them? We define them as we see fit.

The phrase "as we see fit" is correct as it is and doesn't require an object.

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