Can 見る be used rather than 言う in this context?

Why is this written:


Short Stories in Japanese for Intermediate Learners by Olly Richards, page 22

I would maybe have expected this:


It’s odd to say that I saw him saying something, unless the implication is he seemed to be saying something?

  • Two things: first, 僕 is marked with を, i.e. is the object rather than the subject of 見ました; and just because と is used quotatively doesn't mean that the quoted thing was said - check out the category. Maybe japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/68125 in particular will be helpful for you. Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 5:44
  • I don't feel confident writing up a full answer for this, but: I would interpret this as "He looked at me as if to say 'just why, exactly, did you stop?'". Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 5:47
  • Reading the context of the original story, I think this is quoted direct speech instead of "as if" direct speech, but maybe a native speaker can correct my instincts here. I admit I doubted myself as to which it should be.
    – jogloran
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 5:48
  • 1
    僕を言いました makes no sense regardless of what you wanted it to mean.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 12:14
  • 1
    @jogloran - That's how I understand it, too, but 「なぜ止まったんだ」と言って僕を見ました might have been better for a content intended for intermediate learners.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


The interpretation is:

He looked at me, asking 'Why have we stopped?'

rather than

I saw him saying 'Why have we stopped'?

と in this instance is specifying the manner in which the other person looked at the speaker — it's a bit weird to think of direct speech as indicating a way of doing something (as if it were "He looked at me in a 'Why have we stopped' way" in English), but I interpret と here as being similar to expressions such as:

The door closed with a bang.

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