For what it is
Could someone please try to explain the meaning of phrase "for what it is" for me? I've found this phrase used in sentence "I'm sure your gesture of good will will be appreciated for what it is." I'm not the english speaker and I've never encountered this phrase before. I would appreciate the explanation of meaning of this phrase. Thank you very much.
The phrase orignates from similarly constructed, but more descriptive variants and usually with an additional, adverbial component. That is, from such expressions as "for what it [truly, actually, really, etc.] is" but with the adverb elided. Since such descriptive words are used only to emphasize the mere existential condition, it is omitted and the elliptical phrase remains with an intensification of the state of being, as to distinguish between the factual situation from any fiction, left for implication rather than explicitly stated.

From your example, the second person would perform some "gesture" and from the context there is, presumably, the concern that it could be taken as insincere. The first person is reassuring the second that his action will be correctly inferred to involve "good will" despite the possibility that it wouldn't be understood as such.

I understand. Very interesting. You were very helpful, thank you.

You are right about situation in my example. To be exact, second person realy has insincere intentions and first person knows about it, so it is probably meant with bit of a mockery (is that a correct term?). But that's not important. Thank you again and nice day to you.
The 'mockery' you refer to is the essence of the phrase 'for what it is'. In Dutch this phrase is used frequently and means that the 'subject' that is being left/taken for what it is, is not worth any more attention. It looks like the speaker in the example is not very convinced of the good will gesture.
Return to the archive