Sunday, September 13, 2009

Japanese Verbs Passive Form, ~areru ~れる, ~rareru ~られる

In Japanese Verbs Case Study - "tsukuru 作る" post, I faced japanese passive verb form for a first time. I'm going to look at this form here.

Passive voice meaning is is [done] (by ...); will be [done] (by ...)
The conjugation for the passive voice is that u becomes areru.
For Godan: [あ-stem] + れる
For Ichidan: [root] + られる

Group 1: ~ U ending verbs (godan)

to speak(話) hanasareru はなされる hanasaremasu はなさます
to write(書) kakareru かかれる kakaremasu かかます
to listen (聞) kikareru きかれる kikaremasu きかます
to wait(待つ) matareru またれる mataremasu またます
to drink(飲む)nomareru のまれる nomaremasu のまます

Group 2: ~ Iru and ~ Eru ending verbs (yodan)

to wear (着る) kirareruられる kiraremasuられます
to see (見る) mirareruられる miraremasuられます
to get up (起きる) okirareru おきられる okiraremasu おきられます
to get off (降りる) orirareru おりられる oriraremasu おりられます
to believe(信じる) shinjirareru しんじられる shinjiraremasu しんじられます

As always, yodan is easy.

Group 3: Irregular Verbs くる (kuru) and ~する (~suru)

to come (来る) korareruられる koraremasuられます
to do (る) sareruられる saremasuます
to study(勉強する)benkyou-sareru べんきょうさられる

Conjugating to the passive form results in the creation of a new ichidan(yodan) verb (even if the starting verb was godan). This resulting verb can be conjugated to give negatives, past tenses, presumptives, provisionals, polite forms, etc., just as any other ichidan verb.

Passive verb usage in a sentence

Passive form is similar in use to English and follows this pattern:

[subject] wa [agent] ni [transitive verb in passive form]

  • Shikata nai. Jibun wa ningen ni chikaku tsukurareteiru no da. It cannot be helped. I am constructed to be similar to a human being.
  • うどんは小麦粉から作られます。udon ha komugiko kara tsukuraremasu . Udon noodles are made from flour.
  • このテレビは東芝によって作られた kono terebi wa Toshiba ni yotte tsukurareta. This TV was made by Toshiba.
Transitive verbs vs. Intransitive verbs
A verb that needs a direct object to complete its meaning. Bring, enjoy, and prefer are transitive verbs.
A verb that does not need a direct object to complete its meaning. Run, sleep, travel, wonder, and die are all intransitive verbs.

Suffering (misfortune) passive form
Japanese has another kind of passive which conveys a notion of misfortune occurring to the subject:

[subject] wa [agent] ni [direct object] wo [transitive verb in passive form]
[subject] wa [agent] ni [intransitive verb in passive form].

  • kono keeki ha amerikajin ni yoku taberarete iru. This cake is often eaten by Americans.
  • watashi wa inu ni te wo kamareta. My hand was bitten by a dog.
Using passive form to show politeness
Japanese sentence is usually more polite when it is less direct. It is more polite to ask a negative question than a positive one. (For example, 「しますか?」 vs. 「 しませんか?」)

In a similar sense, using the passive form makes the sentence less direct because the subject does not directly perform the action. Here is the same phrase in increasing degrees of politeness.

The same sentence grows longer and longer as you get more and more indirect:

どうする dou suru What will you do? (lit: How do?)
どうします dou shimasu ka - Regular polite.
どうされます dou sarimasu ka - Passive polite.
どうなさいます dou nasaimasu ka - Honorific
どうなさいますでしょうか dou nasai masu deshyou ka - Honorific + a lesser degree of certainty.

明日会議行かれるんですか ashita no kaigi ni ikarirun desuka - Are you going to tomorrow's meeting?


  1. couple of typos
    under Using passive form to show politeness

    "dou sarimasu ka" should be
    "dou saremasu ka"

    at the end -
    "ashita no kaigi ni ikarirun desuka" should be
    "ashita no kaigi ni ikarerun desuka"

  2. I have a question. So I believe the verb, "keru" to kick is a Class 1 Verb since it becomes kerimasu. Would it be kereru then? I do no think it is right though. Shouldn't it be Kerareru?

  3. what is past for of a passive verb in japanese?