My textbook has this example sentence:


The interpretation of this sentence hinges around ところを, and I'm not 100% sure what that means. The textbook simply indicates that it marks "while something is happening," and the ending particle (を in this case) matches whatever verb comes at the end.

If that's the case, then to me it looks like one of those "suffering passives" of the form "X suffered the teacher-warned-not-to-look-at-the-neighbour's-answers," where X is the subject. The gist of it being something like,

"During the test, we were warned by the teacher to not look at our neighbours' answers."

However, in my dictionary of particles it says that ところを "Indicates that something unexpected has happened or is happening."

That definition doesn't seem to fit in this case, because it would leave the passive construction in a weird spot...

But I'm still not sure how my textbook's explanation of "while something is happening" fits in, exactly. It made me think that maybe the translation should be something like,

"During the test, while I was looking at my neighbour's answers, I was warned by the teacher."

Which one of these is correct?

  • 3
    Possible duplicate of A bunch of questions about ところ
    – naruto
    Nov 16, 2017 at 6:32
  • Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/23738/5010
    – naruto
    Nov 16, 2017 at 6:35
  • I don't see any instance of ところを in either of those
    – Nahcirn
    Nov 16, 2017 at 7:26
  • Then look at this and this. This ところ by itself just means "scene (where I was looking at other person's answers)", which is the object of 注意する. 注意される is "sufferer passive" (i.e., the teacher warned me and I was negatively affected), but it has nothing to do with the usage of ところ here.
    – naruto
    Nov 16, 2017 at 9:27
  • 1
    I'd translate it to "I was warned of how I was looking at my neighbour's answers by the teacher".
    – user4092
    Nov 16, 2017 at 13:48

1 Answer 1


According to 明鏡国語辞典:

ところ 【所】
⑥《連体修飾句を受け、時間的位置を規定する》 そのような場面・状況・事態・場合などの意。「家を出るところを見た」

The ところ in your example indicates the scene, situation, state, or occasion where something is happening or someone is doing something, and is often used in the form 「[人/物]が~~するところを/しているところを・・・」 for the English "SVOC" structure (like "I saw him crossing the street" "I heard her singing" etc.), eg:

Sato-san saw me nodding during class.
Yamada-kun photographed me leaving the room.

Turning them into Indirect Passive/間接受身:

I was seen nodding during class by Sato-san.
I was photographed leaving the room by Yamada-kun.

Their Direct Passive/直接受身 versions would be:
... but the Indirect Passive versions would sound more natural in most cases.

Now, your sentence:


has the same structure as the two Indirect Passive examples above. Turning it back to active voice, you get:

Literally: The teacher warned me looking at my neighbor's answers during the test.

Its Direct Passive version would be:
... but this sounds pretty unnatural and uncommon.

注意する in this context means "warn against" or "warn/tell not to do", so your example practically means:

"During the test, the teacher saw me looking at the answers of a student sitting next to me, and warned me not to do that. / told me to stop that."

  • Would it be okay to replace ところ with こと in these examples. I always get confused about this. If so, how would the meaning change? Nov 17, 2017 at 22:08
  • 1
    @user3856370 I think 「授業中に居眠りしていることを佐藤さんに見られた」「その部屋から出ていくことを山田君に写真に撮られた」 sound unnatural. 「となりの人の答えを見ていることを先生に注意された」 is okay but the meaning is a bit different. こと is like "the fact" so it's like "Teacher reproached me (not necessarily on the spot) for looking at~~."
    – chocolate
    Nov 19, 2017 at 13:57

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