On a separate question about Japanese pitch, one of the examples I left was:

'甘美(うまみ)の花は赤を見える' (Your flower looks red [talking to Umami]).

One of the commenters claimed that it was grammatically incorrect and Chocolate edited it to correct the mistake:


I understand that certain verbs have different particles for different contexts etc.

What is the purpose of く replacing を? Is く better, or is を also exceptable? If so which is better and why? I apologise for the multitude of questions.

  • 2
    @yadokari: (1) 赤く is one of the inflections of i-adjective 赤い. 赤 is a noun. Although 赤い and 赤 are related (of course), it is not accurate to say that 赤く is one of the forms of 赤. (2) I was about to write that 赤を見える is not grammatical, and more generally, [noun]を見える is never grammatical. Is there any case where [noun]を見える is grammatical? Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 3:52
  • 1
    @Tsuyoshi Ito, I trust your judgement, but how about in relation to stoplight jargon, could 赤を見える exist?
    – yadokari
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 4:06
  • 1
    here are a few examples of [noun]を見える : ( eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=を見える&ref=sa ) (copy and paste the latter) (are any of these acceptable?)
    – yadokari
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 4:09
  • 3
    @yadokari: As for alc.co.jp link: those examples are ○○を見えるようにする or ○○を見えるように持ち歩く, where syntactically ○○を modifies する or 持ち歩く, not 見える. Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 4:12
  • 2
    @yadokari: As for the traffic light, depending on the meaning, it can be 赤が見える or 赤く見える, but 赤を見える sounds wrong. That is, unless I am overlooking some context where it is correct. Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 4:13

2 Answers 2


In Japanese language it is possible to use adjectives and their inflections in order to have more structured and articulated sentences. In the specific case you want to express a concept recalling the one when a certain object looks like something else. When this happens, adjectives are involved.

The correct way

The pattern for such a concept to be expressed is the following:



Remember always that when an adjective is to be turned into an adverb you need to drop the い and put く (in case of い-adjectives), or drop な and put に in case of な-adjectives. The case here is similar, because you need to turn the adjective into an adverb and then apply 見える.

The not (quite) correct way

You mentioned Chocolate. That user is a native Japanese speaker so please listen to what she says because it is correct. In fact the sentence you mentioned in the very first lines of your question is the following:


This sentence is not correct at all in my opinion. It all revolves around the verb 見える. This verb can be interpreted in two ways:

  1. 見える as a "standalone" 一段{いちだん} verb.
  2. 見える as (one of) the (two possible) potential form(s) of 一段{いちだん} verb 見る{みる} (to see). It might sound like a 五段 verb but it is an 一段 instead, be careful.

The first verb acts the way I told you. Here you might tell me that in your sentence there is no adjective (as you use 赤 and not the corresponding adjective 赤い), well in that case it is treated as a な-adjective and you will use the に as follows:


The pattern is the following (you can add this to the other two patterns I mentioned before):


The second verb is used in a potential context when you want to say that you can see something. Unfortunately there is another potential form for the verb 見る but I will not detail it too much. Just now I am showing you how your sentence is supposed to be changed in order to use such a verb (and how the meaning changes as well):

甘美{うまみ}の花が見える ==> I can see Umami's flower


This is just to point that a verb like 見える can be used in two possible contexts, but not one of them includes the possibility to use particle を! Hope this helps you.

  • 1
    見る is an irregular 一段 verb? It behaves the same way as other 一段 verbs to my knowledge.
    – Flaw
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 11:06
  • It's irregularity relies in the fact that despite the syllabe before the last one is not one ending in -e it is an ichidan... The irregularity is that it is supposed to be a godan but it is not. Grammatically speaking the verb has a syllabe pattern which puts it in the godan verbs, but it is not. Same as おきる or 出来る and so on... Actually you are right I did not specify what kind of irregularity I was referring to...
    – Andry
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 11:17
  • 2
    (1) Then I think your understanding is different to mine. By not ending in -eru or -iru it does not mean that it is supposed to be a 五段 verb. 一段 verbs end in -eru or -iru; the converse is not true. It is strange to me to diagnose the type of the verb by conjugating in reverse. The verb simply is, and then therefore it has its corresponding conjugations. (2) 見る is a perfectly regular 一段 verb, it produces patterns that are indicative of 一段 verbs.
    – Flaw
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 11:57
  • Flaw I am not saying that it is wrong what you say, just that when I was taught Japanese (in Japan) my teachers introduced me to verbs in this way. First they provided me a way to distinguish ichidan from godan and these rules are those i use... I just explained one in the previous comment but there are more detailed I did not mention... During those lessons when I encountered verbs like okiru, I thought that the masu form was okirimasu but it was okimasu being it an ichidan and not godan... when it was like that teachers told me that verb was an irregular...
    – Andry
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 12:56
  • Btw, I changed a little just to avoid confusion...
    – Andry
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 12:57

What is the purpose of く replacing を? Is く better, or is を also exceptable? If so which is better and why?

  1. In short, く does not replace を. They are different things:

    • を is the direct object marker (accusative case marker)

    • ~く is the adverb declension of an adjective ~い.

  2. The verb 見える does not assign a role for a direct object, hence [noun]を does not relate to the verb 見える. く isn't better than を, there is no scale for comparison.

  3. Adverbs modify verbs. The main verb is 見える, the manner in which it does 見える is 赤く. Therefore 赤く見える - "looks red"

For the case of ~を見えるようにする presented by yadokari:

  • する assigns a direct object role ~を, and a relational object role ~に

  • It is ~をする, and the objective to which it is done is 見えるように.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .