For full context: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/k10011214361000/k10011214361000.html

The sentence in question: 気象台によると、これは、光が曲がって見える「しんきろう」です

First, my attempt at translation: "According to the weather station, concerning this, with the light appearing bended it is a mirage."

I'm quite weary about my translation. I made 曲がって and 見える one unit in which 曲がる is kind of like an adjective and 見える is kind of like a copula (semantically it expresses almost the same as "to be" here). This seems quite wrong to me. However, it does make sense contentwise and more importantly, I can't come up with a translation making more sense (also grammarwise).

I can't really remember cases where a verb directly modifies another verb, at least not in the way it is done here. So I wanted to ask for confirmation or correction.

  • Te form is a conjunctive form (of -つ), a kind of adverb, i.e a form that modifies another verb, which is fundamental for all the usages.
    – user4092
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 4:20

2 Answers 2


This te-form is rather simply connecting two verbs. The latter action happens right after the former, or almost at the same time. The first verb is often the cause of the second one. So it's like 家に帰ってテレビを見た and 車が壊れて動かなくなった. Of course you know how to translate these, right? One catch here is that the subject of the first verb is different from that of the second verb, because the first verb is explicitly modified by 光が. Then 光が曲がって見える modifies しんきろう as a relative clause, but しんきろう only serves as the subject of the second verb, 見える, because 曲がる already has its own subject.

So the sentence says two things, 光が曲がる ("light bends") and しんきろうが見える ("mirage is seen/visible"), happen almost at the same time.

This (phenomenon) is (called) mirage, (which is) seen when light rays bend/refract.

Similar examples:

  • 嵐が来て壊れた建物 a building which collapsed after a storm came
  • 赤ちゃんが歩いて喜ぶ親 parents who are rejoiced to see their baby walk
  • 1日が終わって食べる食事 a meal you eat after a day ends

I think "by means of" is not suitable in these examples.


I don't know if it's grammatically accurate but I see sentences like this as the analogue of noun-で (where で is 'my means of') for verb phrases.

So the way I read this is that 光が曲がって modifies 見える adverbially. 見える「しんきろう」is "a mirage that can be seen". How can it be seen? 光が曲がって "by means of light bending".

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