I found this sentence:

Two people were found dead.

and thought the structure was a bit strange. If I had to say this I would have tried:


Sentences like this don't appear in a Google search so I conclude that I must be wrong. Why?

Also I wasn't sure if the original sentence was "two people were found dead" or "two people were found dying". Is the sentence ambiguous?

  • 2
    Isn't it an exact counterpart of English "two people were found dead" vs. "two dead people were found"? The first form would be used much more often in reporting. What exactly do you find strange about it? Or is it that the sentence is actually "the two were found dead", likely taken out of a longer piece.
    – macraf
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 0:40
  • @macraf Fair enough. I had similar thoughts but I wasn't at all certain. I think this is the first time I've seen verbーている nominalized when ている is representing change of state. I'll get used to it. Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 17:44
  • Related:    japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/52853/…
    – user25382
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 23:13
  • I think that the former you were told to search for it. Then you are reporting the number you have found there. The latter you were searching for it(It sounds like you are more of a protagonist rather than a reporter). Then you are reporting the number.
    – user25382
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 23:25

3 Answers 3



(0) Two people were found dead.
(1) 2人が亡くなっているのが見つかりました。
(2) 亡くなっている人が2人見つかりました。

  • 前後の文脈がない限り、与えられた英文(0)の日本語訳は(1)が自然です。
  • (1)はreporterの報告、(2)はprotagonistの文のようだとのコメントがありますが、その解釈は違うと思います。後で、その理由を説明します。
  • 大きな災害や惨事があった時のレポートの代表例は次のようです。「現在のところ、死亡2名、重症3名、軽傷4名との報告が上がっております。」明らかにこれは報告文ですが、「現在のところ、2名死亡、3名重症、4名軽症との報告が上がっております。」とはなりません。前者は(2)のパターンのようであり、後者は(1)のパターンのようです。
  • (1)の文を聞いた人は、それで文の意味を理解し、納得してそれ以外の情報を必要としません。一方、(2)の文を聞いた人は、亡くなった人のことは分かったが、それ以外の例えば負傷した人に関する報告はないのかと報告の続きを待ちます。何故でしょうか。


Also I wasn't sure if the original sentence was "two people were found dead" or "two people were found dying". Is the sentence ambiguous?

(1)や(2)を文の形だけから判断すると進行形"two people were found dying"ととらえられる可能性はあるが、文脈から判断してそのように理解されることはない。従って曖昧な文ではない。

(1)を"two people were found dying"という意味の進行形で表現すると次のようになる。



(0) Two people were found dead.
(1) 2人が亡くなっているのが見つかりました。
(2) 亡くなっている人が2人見つかりました。

  • Unless there are contexts before and after, (1) is natural as the Japanese translation of the given English sentence (0).
  • There is a comment that a sentence (1) is like a reporter's report and a sentence (2) is like a protagonist's expression; but I think these interpretations are incorrect. I'll explain the reason later on.
  • A representative example of a report when there was a big disaster is as follows. "現在のところ、死亡 death 2名、重症 serious case 3名、軽傷 minor injury 4名との報告が上がっております" However, there is generally no report like "現在のところ、2名死亡、3名重症、4名軽症との報告が上がっております."
    The former seems to be the pattern of (2), the latter seems to be the pattern of (1).
  • Those who heard or read the sentence of (1) understand the meaning of the sentence so that they do not need any other information. On the other hand, the person who heard the sentence (2) knows of the person who died, but waits for the following report to see if there is any other report on the injured person and the like. Why?

In conclusion, (1) is an inductive explanatory statement. On the other hand, (2) uses a deductive explanatory method.
In other words, (1) has a nuance that "Two people were found by chance lying on the ground and they were judged dead when they were examined. It did not matter whether there were any other people dead besides that." Meanwhile, (2) has a nuance that "when they investigated the full picture of the disaster under the condition where big human damage were assumed, currently there are two people who are dead. Other than that, there are three seriously injured people, four are slightly injured and there are many people who could safely be evacuated."

Also I wasn't sure if the original sentence was "two people were found dead" or "two people were found dying". Is the sentence ambiguous?

Judging (1) or (2) only from the form of the sentence there is a possibility that they can be regarded as a progressive form having the meaning of "two people were found dying", but judging from the context they couldn't be understood like that.
Therefore they are not ambiguous.

If you express (1) in a progressive form, it would be like:



There is nothing grammatically wrong with either of these sentences. They just have a different meaning:


The object of the verb 見つかる is a nominalised verb なくなっている.

What had been found? The fact that the two were dead.

It's likely a sentence taken out of a longer piece, for example: "Neighbour reported that Mr. Tanaka and his wife were not seen for three weeks". The police was trying to establish what happened to the them. It was found out that the two are dead. So the report continues with: "The two were found dead".


In this sentence the object of みつかる are the two people themselves.

What had been found? Two people who happened to be dead.

Again, it fits another report for example police entered a house and found two dead bodies (they were not trying to discover what happened with someone). The report says: "two dead people were found".




You are right.
I feel the original should have said at least 二人の人が (sometimes redundancy is smoother and more preferable) or 二名が because as it is, it sounds like the two people were previously talked about while then it's more correctly something like ふたりが, or その二人が.

The use of the Arabic numerals feels a little too much like counting numbers. Your version is correct.

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