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I'm playing through Ace Attorney's Japanese release to get reading experience, and decided to replay the first case, this time to focus on sentence structures.

Not long after progressing past the first testimony (where you prove the witness was wrong regarding the time at which the murder happened by a margin of 2 hours), the judge says this, in response to the prosecutor objecting that the witness simply made a trivial mistake:

...私には、そうは思えません。山野さん。どうして、死体を見つけた時間を2時だと...?

The meaning of the sentence comes across as clear to me - roughly, "I can't agree with that. Yamano-san, what's the reason for you saying that you discovered the body at 2 P.M.?"

However, I don't understand why the judge uses that last を. Is there a reason why it wouldn't be "時間が2時" instead? It doesn't look like there's an omitted verb there, as the だと implies the Judge is just quoting.

I'm most certainly missing something. I would like to know what the last を does in this sentence and if it's an established use of the particle.

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2 Answers 2

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Based on A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar, page 521, 思う can take を inside the quoted と clause:

enter image description here

As the image explains, the を version here translates to:

What's the reason for you saying that the time you discovered the body to be 2 pm?

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    Do you mean "A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar" by any chance? It's a good practice to always cite the entire source (full title, author(s), and at least year of publication)
    – Eddie Kal
    Jan 25 at 2:58
  • Fixed name and added page number
    – Riolku
    Jan 25 at 3:01
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    Great! +1 from me for pointing the questioner to a source.
    – Eddie Kal
    Jan 25 at 3:02
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There is a hidden AをBと思う construction in the last part of the sentence. 思う can be other verbs listed here instead.

どうして、死体を見つけた時間2時だと[思うのですか]?
Why do you think it was 2:00 that (you/they) found the body?

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