Japanese: 見える vs. 見られる

Since I spent an hour figuring out the difference between mieru and mirareru today…

  • 見る: (miru) To see
  • 見られる: (mirareru; potential form) To be able to see
  • 見える: (mieru: ??? form) Has the state in which the potential to be seen exists.


  • 海を見ます:
    • I see the ocean.
  • あの山の上に海が見える:
    • From the top of that mountain, the ocean can be seen.
  • あの山は上りましたので、海が見られました:
    • Because I climbed that mountain, I was able to see the ocean.

Or, more succinctly, a human does mirareru; an object does mieru ;)

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