recognize (someone or something) for what (someone or something) is

recognize (someone or something) for what (someone or something) is

To be able to perceive and understand the true nature of someone or something. She seems committed to thinking of him as some misunderstood outcast, instead of just recognizing him for what he is—a petty thug. You need to recognize the situation for what it is and start putting things in place to deal with it.
See also: recognize, what

recognize something for what it is

 and recognize one for what one is
to see and understand exactly what someone or something is or represents. The disease represented a serious threat to all peoples, and Dr. Smith recognized it for what it was. I recognize you for what you are, you scoundrel!
See also: recognize, what