I have a problem with the following sentence:


The sentence was translated as: "Did they not notice what you had, or wasn't it yours from the beginning, which is it?"

Based on the passive 気づかれなかった shouldn't it be more like: "Weren't you noticed by what you had...", but that would imply the person was noticed by the things he had with him which doesn't really make sense.

Basically, I want to know how 君は、持っているものに気づかれなかった works. Can it also mean that he was noticed by others through the things he had with him? Or is the translation correct that the things were not noticed, even though 気づかれなかった is passive (and it's most likely not the polite passive) ?

  • 1
    I think 君 is an actor of 持っている/持っていない here, and implied "they" are the actor of passive 気づかれなかった, which is directed toward the 持っているもの object. Thus I would translate it as "Didn't they notice what you carried, or didn't you carry anything in the first place, which is it?"
    – kroki
    Mar 18, 2017 at 17:33
  • Hmm, yeah most likely. The "に" in "に気づかれる" can mark the things being noticed, too, and not just the actor who is noticing something. That kind of threw me off.
    – DimKyp
    Mar 18, 2017 at 18:11
  • 1
    I think we need more context to understand the sentence. Mar 19, 2017 at 10:08

4 Answers 4


This 気づかれない is not "to be noticed" (passive) but "to be able to notice" (potential). So 持っているものに気づかれなかったのか is "is it that you could not notice what you had?"

Of course 気づく is a consonant-stem verb and thus has the distinct potential form (気づける) which is far more common. But we occasionally see the れる-form used in the potential sense (especially in older documents, I think).

See: Passive usage of 「済まされない」 in sentences

  • (Since I got a downvote) I admit I'm only 80% confident in this answer; if OP thinks my answer doesn't make sense, please edit the question to include the full context (the best way is to include the surrounding Japanese sentences, untranslated).
    – naruto
    Mar 19, 2017 at 16:44

The given translation "Did they not notice what you had" is correct.

First, Xに気づく means "to get aware of / to notice X". So, 人が(君が)持ってる物に気づく means "people notice what you have".

Now, you can make the sentence passive with 君 being the subject as below.

  • (君が、人に)持っているものに気づかれる.

The past negative interrogative version (plus noda form) of the above is the example sentence.


I don't agree with the translation. Here's why:


持っているもの = Something you have with you
気づかれない = To not have been able to notice
持っていない = "don't have"

I read this, with a bit of "absent" context, that it should read like this:

"So, which is it? That they didn't notice what you had with you, or that you didn't have it with you from the start?"

I feel that this interpretation makes more sense, because the focus seems to be on the item that is missing.

  • 気づかれない = To not have been able to notice ← So, you interpret the れ(る) in 気づかなかった as potential, not passive?
    – chocolate
    May 21, 2017 at 3:53
  • I did, but you're right, that's not correct. Oversight on my part. Somehow, though, I read it passively for my translation, as the translation reads "That they didn't notice" rather than "That they couldn't notice". My apologies! EDIT: I didn't focus on 持っているもの, 気づかれない, and 持っていない as "incorrectly translated" so much as just focal points for main ideas. I apologize if it comes off that way
    – psosuna
    May 22, 2017 at 20:06

I don't know the whole context of this sentence but it may be using the passive form as an honorific, indirect statement. Reference here. This kind of verb is used often to show honor and respect to the doer without overusing other honorifics. If this is what the writer intended (and it very well may not be at all), then the verb would be active (as you have translated) and not passive.

(Again, I'm not totally certain. More context would be necessary).

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