This dictionary (https://jisho.org/search/%E5%AE%B6%E4%B8%AD%20%23sentences) gives the translation:

I searched all the rooms for the lost thing.

But I don't understand why it is not translated into "I searched all the rooms to see if there is something missing"

Could someone explain this please?

  • 1
    I think your translation is better. The original translation suggests that there is definitely something missing. But are you really asking why the writer gave that translation? We can never know. Jan 22 at 17:35

3 Answers 3


Japanese has no articles. Depending on the context, this 失った物 can mean either "the thing I lost" or "something I lost". For example, the first interpretation is correct in the context about a ring the speaker lost many years ago. The second interpretation is correct in the context about a burglar who broke into the house some time ago.

Since this example sentence has no previous context, I cannot say either interpretation is incorrect. Nevertheless, in the context of a burglar, people tend to use 何か and say 何か無くなっていないか(と)探した or 何か無くしていないか(と)探した. Provided there is a sufficient prior context that explains what "the lost thing" is, there is nothing wrong with jisho.org's translation.

  • 1
    My argument for suggesting that the OP's translation was better is the presence of か. Does this not imply that there is some doubt as to whether anything is missing in the first place? Whereas, "I searched all the rooms for the lost thing" implies that something is definitely lost. Perhaps I've completely failed to understand the nuance here. I didn't really interpret the question as asking about articles but, again, maybe I've missed something. Jan 23 at 20:10
  • 3
    I think naruto is right that the heart of it lies in the articles. If you take 失った物 as "lost things", the か signifies doubt as to whether or not anything has been lost in the first place, but if you take it as "the lost things", the か signifies doubt as to whether or not these lost things are in the rooms.
    – Kaskade
    Jan 23 at 21:13
  • @Kaskade Ah. I never thought about the doubt being about the location. That makes perfect sense. Thanks. Jan 23 at 23:39
  • 1
    @user3856370 As Kaskade said, the doubt indicated by the か can be on different levels depending on the context. Actually, my first intuition was "I definitely lost it, and I wonder if it's in this house".
    – naruto
    Jan 24 at 2:11

Does "to see if there is something missing" mean "to get to know if I lost something"? (like you heard that someone burgled your house)
Then from the viewpoint of grammar, the way you translate is not wrong, or better than the original.
失ったもの, unlike なくしたもの, must not be in your house.

  • 2
    "Does "to see if there is something missing" mean "to get to know if I lost something"? (like you heard that someone burgled your house)" <-- Your understanding is correct. Could you please try to rephrase "失ったもの not なくしたもの has not to be in your house"? It's hard to understand at the moment. Jan 22 at 18:01
  • 2
    失う is usually used about intangible things like points in games, friends, trust, money or job. If it's used for real things, in most cases, the things can never get back like when books burned or leg is cut. When mentioning something you dropped on streets, なくす is used.
    – Chance
    Jan 22 at 18:16
  • hinative.com/questions/23404122 There is an answer that says "AがないかとBする" may has both probability of "Do B to see if there is A" and "Do B to find A". So I think my translation and the dictionary’s translation are OK.
    – Kyuu
    Jan 22 at 19:38
  • 1
    @Kyuu - As I understand it, this is basically about if 失った物 should be interpreted as "a lost item" or "the lost item", and the answer depends on context. Either way, 失った物 in this sentence sounds a bit weird for the reason mentioned on HiNative and also the reason Chance probably tried to explain in the last part of their answer above.
    – aguijonazo
    Jan 22 at 22:48

let me break it down for you

失った物: the things i lost,

がないかと(思って): here after the と, some verb is omitted, like 思う

家中を捜した - searched all over the house

so you can maybe translate it as: ""arent there any missing things?" i thought, and started searching all over the house"

it can mean that you are not sure if there are missing things, so you do it, in order to see if there actually are

also most of translations from japanese to english are not so direct, because its hard to translate directly and be natural most of the time.

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