In the sentence "She is going to tell the truth as she saw/understood it," the phrase "as she saw/understand it" modifies "tell"? This may be paraphrased as "She is going to tell the truth the way she saw it" but I think how to see is not compatible with how to tell. If so, the only interpretation possible is that this phrase modifies "the truth" like the phrase "as we know it" modifies "the world" in "the world as we know it will be over"?

  • Another related question is that in the related example "You may think I sound harsh, but I call it as I see it.", that is, the idiom "call it as one sees it," the as-caluse "as I see it" seems to me to modify "call", as suggested by this idiom's meaning "to state one's opinion in an open, honest, and direct way." I want to know whether the as-caluse "as she saw it" in the above sentence can be used with the same meaning as the as-caluse " as I see it" in " I call it as I see it" intends to convey.
    – saki
    Dec 24, 2022 at 12:33
  • Free Dictionary seems to think 'call it as one sees it' is an idiom, but it's not one that's familiar to me. NB You have mis-spelled clause three times. Dec 24, 2022 at 13:49
  • Then, what about "She told the truth just as it happened" ? The word "just" intervened between "truth" and "as" makes it impossible for the as-clause to modify the preceding noun, i guess. Then, the as-clause seems to modify the verb "tell", but how to tell seems not compatible with how to happen. How should it be interpreted?
    – saki
    Dec 24, 2022 at 14:27
  • I don't see that it's impossible at all. Dec 24, 2022 at 15:59
  • You mean if you are asked "how she told the truth?" you can answer this question by "just as it happened," but cannot answer the question "how will you call it?" by "As I see it"? And I want to know how you feel if "as she saw/understood it" is forced to modify the verb "tell." Is there any semantic incongruence between them?
    – saki
    Dec 25, 2022 at 3:18

2 Answers 2


Does the phrase "as she sees/understands it" modify "tell"?

No. It modifies "truth".

She is going to tell the truth -- What sort of "truth"? -- the truth as she sees/understands it

  • thanks! then, is it not possible to paraphrase this sentence as "She is going to tell the truth the way she saw it"? or even in the latter paraphrased sentence, the way clause modifies the preceding noun "the truth", not "tell" or "tell the truth"?
    – saki
    Dec 24, 2022 at 11:55
  • Yes, "the truth the way she saw it" has the same meaning as "the truth as she saw it".
    – equin0x80
    Dec 24, 2022 at 12:33
  • I see, thank you. It would be very helpful if you answer the related question, too.
    – saki
    Dec 24, 2022 at 12:36
  • The reason for this second question is that I think "as I see it" cannot modify the pronoun "it" like the that-clause cannot modify the pronoun (e.g., * it that he ate), so the only option is to modify the verb "call."
    – saki
    Dec 24, 2022 at 12:45

As Graybeard says (and I upvoted him), "the way she saw it" modifies "truth", not "tell". The thing that is the way she saw it is the truth, not the telling of it.

Compare to, for example, "She told the truth in a hushed tone." Here "in a hushed town" modifies "told". It describes the way she spoke. It doesn't describe the truth.

Often we have to resolve grammar questions by applying common sense to the context. Suppose I say, for example, "My son took his dog for a walk in the park and met Sally. Sally petted him and fed him a dog biscuit." A listener would likely assume that I meant that Sally petted the dog and fed the dog a biscuit, not that she petted my son and fed my son a dog biscuit. Grammatically either interpretation is possible, "him" could refer to either my son or the dog, but only one of those two interpretations makes logical sense. Of course many jokes rely on the listener making this kind of logical assumption, and then saying something to indicate that that assumption is wrong. Like in this case, then say, "I don't think it's appropriate for Sally to be petting my son." Listeners would presumably laugh or groan.

  • Thanks, I want to ask you that given appropriate context, could "as she saw/understood it" in "She is going to tell the truth as she saw/understood it" be interpreted to modify the verb "tell"? Or even in such a case, how to see is not an approprite expression to describe how to tell?
    – saki
    Dec 25, 2022 at 3:13
  • Perhaps you could come up with some larger context where such an interpretation would make sense. Some explanation where it is not the "truth" that is as she understood it, but her telling of that truth. As with many cases of interpretation of grammar, one could often find some unusual context where a seemingly nonsensical statement would make sense.
    – Jay
    Dec 26, 2022 at 2:07
  • Thanks, that's helpful.
    – saki
    Dec 28, 2022 at 14:40

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