For some reason I still struggle sometimes to understand who is doing what in some sentences. I came across this a few days ago and I've tried working it out but I can't see the wood from the trees now.

To set the scene, a daughter is at the funeral of her mother (who wasn't the nicest mum in the world) and she's listening to chit-chat from the other members of the congregation.

We probably don't need this entire block but it's included in case the answer lies in the build-up:


Is the daughter saying that she's lonely (not sure how that would relate to the first part of the sentence), or is the daughter surmising that despite her faults, her mother was lonely?

I think (because of the 気がする) she's saying she has a feeling that her mother was lonely (perhaps based on the comments from the others at the funeral), but I'm really not sure. I think the fact that non-explicit phrases often default to "me" is causing my lack of certainty (from time to time this plagues my understanding generally).

Can anyone help and point out the (probably) obvious solution?


2 Answers 2


I think the 寂しい here is more like "(something is) sad" than "(someone feels) lonely".


The subject of the 寂しい is the fact that not a single person was feeling sad about ディライザ's death (= 参列者の中にディライザの死を悲しんでいる者は一人もいなかった。).

確かに~~けれど、 It is true that ~~, but
さすがに still, nonetheless,
少し寂しい it is a little sad
気がする* I feel, it appears to me

*The subject of 気がする is the speaker "I", of course.


The subject of the verbal phrase 寂しい気がする is 'I' to a native speaker of Japanese, even though this verbal phrase sounds a little awkward. And the original uncertainty of the notion of 'subject' in the Japanese language makes it difficult for English speakers to understand this kind of expression. The sentence can be paraphrased in this way.

I feel a little sad to find that no one was lamenting for my mother's death.

  • 2
    主語が何なのかで解釈が割れるのはまだ分からないでもないですが、流石に "explicitly" はないのでは…。
    – naruto
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 2:56

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