31. Passive Form

The passive form is the conjugation pattern to express the state of undergoing something, such as “The Clow Cards were created by Clow Reed.”  To state the passive state, conjugate the verb into its passive form in the rule shown in the following table:

TypeRootConjugation Example
u-verb-u-a-reru kaku
to be written
to be waited
to be thought
ru-verb-ru-rareru miru
to be seen
to be opened
Irregular aru


to be done
to be come

The passive suffix -rareru acts like a ru-verb, which conjugates -rare-nai (negative), -rare-masu (polite), -rareta (past), -rarete-iru (progressive), etc. The passive sentences are written in either of these two types:

S wa P ni V-rareru. = S is V’ed by P.

S wa O o P ni V-rareru. = S has O V’ed by P.

The first type means the subject S undergoes the action V due to the person or thing denoted by P.

Purin wa Kero-chan ni tabe-rareta.
The pudding was eaten by Kero.

The second type is different; not the subject S but the object O undergoes the action V due to the person or thing denoted by P. The subject S is the owner of the object O.

Watashi wa purin o Kero-chan ni tabe-rareta.
I had the pudding eaten by Kero.

Just like the explanation above, this sentence does not mean “I was eaten,” but “the pudding was eaten.” The word order is not rigidly strict; O o and P ni are permutable. Additionally, like other Japanese sentences, the subject S or the person or thing P can be omitted if they are explicit or if the P is unknown. OK, let’s see the two sample dialogs.

This one starts out with the pattern S wa P ni V-rareru, but the subject S is marked by the particle ga instead of wa. This particle is so-called the introductive particle, used when the subject is something unfamiliar to the listener. This manner of speech is similar to the indefinite article in English when you start with something unfamiliar to the listener as in “A great sorcerer lived in Hong Kong. The sorcerer one day created a card attributed of wind.” Anyway, in this dialog, the one who ate the pudding isn’t mentioned because it is unknown.
Rika Purin ga tabe-rare-chatta.
My pudding was eaten.
Chiharu Dare ni?
By whom?
Rika Wakara-nai.
I don’t know.
Sakura Tabun, Kero-chan ne...
By Kero-chan, perhaps...

In contrast, the other one starts with the pattern S wa O o P ni V-rareru. In this case, the one who ate the pudding isn’t mentioned because it is definitely clear.
Sakura Purin o tabe-rare-chatta.
I got my pudding eaten.
Tomoyo Kero-chan desu ne?
Eaten by Kero?
Sakura Sou yo.

Isn't it interesting that Japanese verbs changes into each form such as passive, causative, past forms, etc., by being attached to by respective conjugation suffix? Even if you find it difficult, you'll get the hang of it in reapeating practice.

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