How to use 見えない and 見られない differently.

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May 22, 2011 13:51 Japanese_language 受身
Perhaps, 見えない and 見られない are difficult to use correctly. Because
見えない is “I cannot see” definitely.
見(ら)れない is also that definitely.
The difference becomes clearer when you think about it in their negative form, rather than the affirmative one, 見える and 見られる.

In short, if you want to see something but it is (typically) physically impossible to see it, 見えない. For example, “ここからは富士山は見えない” (Mt. Fuji is not visible here.)

To the contrary, if seeing is impossible (typically) as you have something to do, 見られない.

この地方では熊は見られない。
* この地方では熊は見えない。 (* means a wrong sentence.)
The second one sounds like bears become invisible creatures there. (However, I guess that there are probably people who say that on regions. Japan has quite a few dialects.) Not being and not being visible are different for Japanese.

滅多に見られない珍しい古文書。
* 滅多に見えない珍しい古文書。
The second one sounds like the paper is usually invisible. Not often being and not being visible are different for Japanese.

回復の兆しが見えない。
回復の兆しが見られない。
Both are correct; only the nuance is different.

暗くてよく見えない。
* 暗くてよく見られない。

By the way, in school grammar, 見れる (instead of 見られる) and 見れない (instead of 見られない) are wrong because of ら抜き言葉. However, some scholars say a different opinion. They say that saying wrong is wrong and it is based on a wrong understanding of Japanese grammar. I agree with them.


So far, it is easy. However, thinking of it more, the story becomes more difficult. I will write it later.