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I saw 見て見ない used in the sense of "not to see", e.g.:

見て見ないふりをして通り過ぎた. (He passed by pretending not to see me.)

What is the grammar behind this form?

I thought it is Verb+て + Verb, but both verbs are the same (unless they are used in different meanings?). It's not Verb+て+みる (since the meaning would be completely different). And it's not a standalone word, since the dictionary does not mention it (except in examples).

Also, what's the difference with 見てない? And can it be used in affirmative (見て見る) to mean "to see"?

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  • Your example doesn't have 見て見ない in it...? I guess perhaps it just didn't get copied over completely? Some dictionaries do have it, though in an older form. jpdb.io/…
    – Leebo
    Feb 5, 2023 at 7:46
  • Thank you, fixed!
    – max
    Feb 5, 2023 at 8:02

1 Answer 1

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It is a variant of the set phrase 見て見ぬふりをする. The closest expression in English seems to be to turn a blind eye to sth.

Breaking down the phrase, it is 見て+見ぬふりをする=see and pretend not to see, meaning to overlook.


Typical examples:

  1. 悪事を見て見ないふりをする - overlook (someone's) wrong doing
  2. 困っている人を見て見ぬふりをする - overlook (someone) having a trouble (= do not offer help)
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    "turn a blind eye to " means "to overlook someone's wrong doing" or "ignore a bad situation". Whereas, "pretend not to see" includes more general meanings. If I see someone walking down the street and don't want to talk to them I can "pretend not to see them" but "turn a blind eye to them" would not be an appropriate usage. Do the phrases discussed here encompass all meanings? Feb 5, 2023 at 12:07
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    @user3856370 I think basically it shares the point, too. Not saying hello to someone because you don't want to won't be typically described with 見て見ぬふりをする.
    – sundowner
    Feb 5, 2023 at 23:38

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