For instance, if I say the following as the first phrase in a conversation:


Hi! I was looking for you at the picnic, but couldn't find anywhere.

Is it OK to construct the sentence without a particular topic? Is I as the topic implied in this case?

  • 1
    Several features of that sentence seem weird to me (特に丁寧語と友達同士ことばが不味く混ぜています。). Did you write it yourself or are you quoting something?
    – virmaior
    Jul 7, 2014 at 10:13
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    @virmaior, yes, I wrote this. Any off-topic feedback is welcome, too.
    – katspaugh
    Jul 7, 2014 at 14:01
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    Err, the causal vs. non casual happens in a lot of ways here. おはよう [very casual]. ... さん [very polite]... いましたが[polite]. みえませんでした [polite] ね [casual -- at least in this context]. Also, leaving out yourself as subject is somewhat casual (depending on the sentence). Commenting that you didn't find someone is casual but done in a formal voice. Makes it kind of a weird whiplash sentence feel.
    – virmaior
    Jul 7, 2014 at 14:59
  • @virmaior will keep your comments in mind next time, thank you!
    – katspaugh
    Jul 8, 2014 at 5:44

2 Answers 2


I think you can say it like this:


**The 見える is the honorific form of いる(居る), and its subject (=リナさん) is implied. To avoid the confusing with 「(私がリナさんを)見えませんでした」(見える = potential form of 見る), you can rephrase it as 「どこにもいらっしゃらなかったですね。」, using いらっしゃる which is another honorific form of いる.



If you want to say "I couldn't find you" more literally using "I" as the subject, you can say it this way:

おはよう!ピクニックでリナさんを探していたんだけど、見つけられなかったよ。/ 見つからなかったよ。(casual)

  • Thanks! So I guess the answer is: no, the topic is not obligatory, even in polite speech.
    – katspaugh
    Jul 8, 2014 at 5:53
  • @katspaugh はい、I think you're right!
    – user1016
    Jul 8, 2014 at 9:02
  • I do know you're japanese, Chokosan, but stll i can't avoid point out that thinking おられる as honorific form is a (common) mistake. Jul 8, 2014 at 22:30
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    @Kokoroatari goo辞書(「おられる」「…ておられる」の形で尊敬表現に用いられる。)やWeblio辞書(多くは尊敬を表す。「いらっしゃる」などの意味。)にも載っているのに、Wiktionaryによれば、関東出身者や「おる」と謙譲語と見る年齢層が誤用であると考え不快に感じるそうで、Wikipediaも「おられる」を「いる」の尊敬語一覧に載せている一方で注釈に、東日本には抵抗を持つ人もいる、と書いていて、さらに「京阪地域では多用されている」とあるので私が関西人であるため抵抗を感じなかったのだと思います。
    – user1016
    Jul 10, 2014 at 23:38
  • 東京や関東で「違和感がある、抵抗がある」とされる表現を、日本語学習者に使用するよう勧めるのは良いことではないと思うので、「おられる」は削除したいと思います。
    – user1016
    Jul 10, 2014 at 23:40

It is implied. If you want to follow up this sentence with a different sentence you'd need to mark the new one with は. (e.g. リナさんはどこにいたの?)

And like virmaior said, the mix of casual speech with polite speech is definitely odd.

  • 3
    imo asking the followup without リナさんは would be fine
    – ssb
    Jul 7, 2014 at 14:01
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    Thank you, I get it. As for the casual speech, do you guys mean the「おはよう」there?
    – katspaugh
    Jul 7, 2014 at 14:13
  • 1
    For a more formal "Good Morning", you simply need 「おはようございます」instead.
    – William
    Jul 7, 2014 at 17:53

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