Language Passive Forms

By JREF · Mar 22, 2012 ·
  1. JREF
    Passive forms are also known as “passive voice” in English. It is translated as “being done”. This form cannot be combined with verbal adjectives. The passive form can be created by adding either れる (reru) or られる (rareru) to the mizenkei conjugation of respectively Group 4 (yodan katsuyou) and Group 2 (nidan katsuyou) verbs.

    Though normally the mizenkei + れる (reru) is used with Group 4 (yodan katsuyou) verbs and the mizenkei + られる (rareru) is used with Group 2 (nidan katsuyou) verbs, in the spoken language you may encounter the mizenkei + れる (reru) sometimes being used with Group 2 (nidan katsuyou) verbs. This form is officially grammatically incorrect.

    Irregular verbs

    The passive form of 来る (kuru) is formed by placing られる (rareru) after the mizenkei. The passive form of する (suru) is formed by placing れる (reru) after さ (sa) or られる (rareru) after せ (se).

    RentaikeiMizenkei + (ら)れる [(ra)reru]
    買う kau買われる kawareru
    書く kaku書かれる kakareru
    出す dasu出される dasareru
    待つ matsu待たれる matareru
    食べる taberu食べられる taberareru
    -(食べれる) (tabereru)
    見る miru見られる mirareru
    -(見れる) (mireru)
    する suruされる sareru
    -せられる serareru
    来る kuru来られる korareru
    -(来れる) (koreru)
    When adding (ら)れる [(ra)reru], which is a Group 2 verb, to the mizenkei conjugation, the resulting verb is also conjugated as a Group 2 verb. For the correct conjugations, please check the conjugations page.

    Sonii no CD pureeyaa wa chuugoku de tsukuraremasu.
    Sony CD-players are made in China.

    Ka ni sasareta.
    I’ve been bitten by a mosquito.

    The passive form has several functions. It can be used as a
    • Passive form
    • Passive form of inconvenience (迷惑の受身)
    • Polite form
    • Potential form

    The Passive form

    The passive form is used to describe that “A” is being done by “B”. “A” is followed by the subject particle が (ga), and “B” is followed by the particle に (ni).

    Tegami ga Tanaka-san ni kakaremashita.
    The letter was written by Mr Tanaka.

    Tanaka-san ga tegami wo kakimashita.
    Mr Tanaka wrote the letter.

    The Passive form of inconvenience (迷惑の受身 meiwaku no ukemi)

    Like the passive form, the passive form of inconvenience is used to describe that “A” is being done by “B”, but with the connotation that what happened was unpleasant. In this form “A” is followed by the object particle を (wo), and “B” is followed by the particle に (ni). This form can often be translated without having the passive form in the English translation.

    Shukudai wo inu ni taberaremashita.
    The dog ate my homework.

    The Polite form

    The polite form maintains the normal construction a normal sentence would. This form is used to heighten the politeness level towards the person you are talking to.

    あなたがもう食事を食べられましたか。 (Anata ga mou shokuji wo taberaremashita ka.)
    Have you had dinner yet?

    Ashita, koraremasu ka.
    Will you come by tomorrow?

    The Potential form

    The potential form is constructed in the same way as the standard passive form, but the grammatical subject of the sentence is usually separated by the particle は (wa). This form is often used to create a potential form from group 2 (or nidan katsuyou) verbs.

    Kare wa Naomi-chan no koto ga wasurerarenai.
    He can’t stop thinking about Naomi.


    “A” ga “B” ni saremasu.
    “A” is being done by “B”. Passive form

    “A” wo “B” ni saremasu.
    “B” does “A” (and I am suffering because of it). Passive form of inconvenience

    “A” ga “B” wo saremasu.
    “A” does “B”. Polite form

    “A” wa “B” ga saremasu.
    “A” can do “B”. Potential form


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