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I'm sure I'm going to kick myself on this, but for some reason I just can't get my head around it. From Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:

二人が通りの端から端まで、車のヘッドライトが見えはしないかと探している間に、音は確実に大きくなってきた。

Is this the grammar construction するかしないかのうちに as in: "no sooner had they blah, then blah"?

Is 見え the noun form of the potential form of 見る or just a word that I can't seem to find in either of my dictionaries? Does it mean a sight or a glimpse (as per the English version)?

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    It's 見えない combined with は where you need to add する for grammaticality and it all ends up into a strange form like that, if I'm not mistaken. (It's a bit hazy to me.) Also, the potential form of 見る is 見られる and not 見える – oals Sep 29 '16 at 13:07
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    (Basically, 見えていない <-> 見えてはいない but 見えない <-> 見えはしない) – oals Sep 29 '16 at 13:14
  • Brilliant, thanks for that, that makes sense! – user18083 Sep 29 '16 at 13:18
  • I'm not convinced that these are equal, but this might help. ( 大きすぎやしないか ==?== 大きすぎはしないか ) japanese.stackexchange.com/q/5875/16344 – HizHa Sep 29 '16 at 18:38
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(From comment)

This actually is not the gramatical construction of するかしないかのうちに as in: "no sooner had they blah, then blah"?

Here, 見えはしない, in the meaning, generally the same with 見えない (except that the sense of は is added)

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  • Is this the grammar construction するかしないかのうちに as in: "no sooner had they blah, then blah"?
    No, even though they look similar.

  • Is 見え the noun form of the potential form of 見る?
    No. But it is almost there. The potential form of 見る is 見られる.
    見え comes from the verb 見える, which is an independent verb, even though 見える and 見られる have the same meaning.

見え is the noun form of the verb 見える.
In Japanese this is called 動詞の連用形の名詞化.
The masu-form of a verb can be used as a noun.

Examples:
書く (dictionary form)
書きます (masu-form)
書き (noun)

書きが下手。kaki ga heta.
...writing is poor.

見える (dictionary form)
見えます (masu-form)
見え (noun)

見えはしない。mie wa shinai.
...can't see.

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