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Grammar detail: verb passive form

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JLPT:
verb passive form - is done
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The passive form a verb indicates that 'something was done (by somebody)'. So for example, in English, 'I eat a meal' is active, whereas 'the meal was eaten by me' is passive.
In Japanese, the passive form is formed as follows:
  • For ichidan (る) verbs, replace the る with られる. For example:
    たべる eat ➜ たべられる is eaten
  • For godan (う) verbs, replace the vowel in the last sound with the equivalent sound containing あ, then add れる. For example:
    よむ read ➜ よまれる is read
    ,
    はなす speak ➜ はなされる is spoken
  • There are a handful of irregular forms. For example:
    する do ➜ される is done
    ,
    くる come ➜ こられる (see note on politeness below)
The passive form acts as a standard ichidan (る) verb. See our verb conjugation overview for more information.
Note that for ichidan verbs, the passive and the potential forms are identical:
  • たべる eat ➜ たべられる can mean either 'is eaten' or 'can eat' depending on context
For godan verbs ending in る, there is a slight difference:
  • みる see ➜ みられる is seen (passive), but みれる can see (potential)
Note that in Japanese, the passive form is often used to increase the level of politeness, and in some cases, English does not have an equivalent passive form. One example is くる - there is no direct passive form in English, but the Japanese passive form こられる indicates a higher degree of politeness. For example:
かぞく
家族
いっしょ
れてこられた
です
Did you bring your family with you?
する (to do) is another verb for which the passive form is often used to increase politeness. する (plain form) ➜ します (ます form) ➜ されます (passive form, politer than ます form) ➜ なさいます (honorific form, politer still).
In Japanese the passive form is known as
うけみけい
.
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See also:
  • verb potential form - ability to do
  • Key verb conjugations

Kanji used in this grammar

ジュ   うける to receive, to accept   うかる to pass (an exam)    
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シン   み body, person   
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ケイ   ギョウ   shape   かたち    かた    
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3
カ   ケ   house   いえ    や    
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2
ゾク    tribe   
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2
レン   つれる to take, to lead   つらねる to line up   つらなる to extend   
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3
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