Context: girl breaks up with guy, he gets sad and says this line


why is the passive/potential form used here? is it possible to use only the past simple with た here? I'm not sure how to make any sense out of the sentence in the passive/potential form

  • I almost certain this is not the passive, but the potential form ...
    – Angelos
    Apr 30, 2018 at 0:33
  • Yeah. That's likely potential: selftaughtjapanese.com/2015/06/16/… I'm not sure, but it might be something like: "Even though only I was able to be special for you/your special person" or something. I'd guess the potential is there to indicate his ability to be her special or something. Apr 30, 2018 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


This いられた clearly has a potential meaning.

  • 私だけがあなたの特別でいた。 Only I was being your special person.
  • 私だけがあなたの特別でいられた。 Only I could be your special person.

So 私 used the potential form simply because she wanted to be the guy's "special".

  • 1
    Thank you. Btw, "could be being" is gramatically incorrect. Just "could be (special)" is fine. :) I was being is wrong too, the "was" already has the "to be" form in the sentence.
    – YTKN
    Apr 30, 2018 at 12:57
  • @YTKN Thank you, feel free to correct my English :)
    – naruto
    Apr 30, 2018 at 13:15
  • You are welcome! Is it fine to say "special to you" or "your special person" too? "Your special" feels like another word is missing and doesn't sound too natural in English
    – YTKN
    Apr 30, 2018 at 14:26
  • @YTKN Yes this of course means "someone special" or "your special person". But I feel "あなたの特別" sounds a bit "poetic" in Japanese, too.
    – naruto
    Apr 30, 2018 at 16:31

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