Wild Nihongo!
に Particle (Passive / Causative)

に Particle (Passive / Causative)

に Particle (Passive / Causative) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: By / From (marks the agent or source in a passive or causative sentence)

Construction: 

  • Source + に
    • E.g. 先生せんせい [From the teacher]
  • Agent + に
    • E.g. 先生せんせい [By the teacher]

Notes:

  • に (Passive / Causative) is used to used to mark the agent of the main action in causative and passive sentences. For example, “Joe was eaten by a tiger” is a passive sentence in which Joe is the subject and the tiger is the agent of the main action (i.e. eating). Thus, the tiger would be marked by に (Causative / Passive). Similarly, “Greg forced Joe to eat green peas” is a causative sentence in which Greg is the subject and Joe is the agent of the main action (i.e eating peas). Thus, Joe would be marked by に (Causative / Passive). Note that Joe is forced to eat the peas in this example and has little actual agency over the situation. With the causative form, the causee is marked by に (Causative / Passive) when the main verb is transitive, regardless of the causee’s volition. You can learn more about the causative form here.
    • E.g. ジョーはとらべられた。[Joe was eaten by a tiger.]
    • E.g. グレーグジョーにグリーンピースをべさせた。[Greg forced Joe to eat green peas.]
  • に (Passive / Causative) is also used with verbs such as もらう [To receive], りる [To borrow] , く [To hear], ならう [To learn], and おそわる [To be taught] to indicate the source of some favor or action. This construction is analogous to prepositional phrases that begin with the preposition “From“, as in “I received a gift from my mother”, “I borrowed butter from my neighbor”, “John learned karate from his sensei”, et cetera.
    • E.g. ジェーンは山野やまの先生せんせい生花いけばなならった。[Jen learned ikebana from Yamano-sensei.]
    • E.g. ぼくはアメリカじん英語えいごおしえてもらった。[I learned English from an American.]
  • When に (Passive / Causative) marks a source of an action or favor, に (Passive / Causative) can be interchanged with から. The difference is that に (Passive / Causative) conveys psychological closeness to a human source, while から does not. Thus, に (Passive / Causative) can not be used when the source is non-human, such as a public or academic institution.
    • E.g. ジェーンは山野やまの先生せんせい生花いけばなならった。[Jen learned ikebana from Yamano-sensei.]
    • E.g. ジェーンは山野やまの先生せんせいから生花いけばなならった。[Jen learned ikebana from Yamano-sensei.]
    • E.g. ビルは文部省もんぶしょうから奨学金しょうがくきんをもらいました。[Bill received a scholarship from the Ministry of Education.]
    • E.g. *ビルは文部省もんぶしょう奨学金しょうがくきんをもらいました。[Bill received a scholarship from the Ministry of Education.] It is inappropriate to use に (Passive / Causative) when the source is non-human.

Example Sentences:

一男かずお友達ともだち手紙てがみまれた。[Kazuo had his letter read by a friend (and Kazuo was not OK with that).]

秋子あきこひろしにごはんつくらせた。[Akiko made Hiroshi cook the meal.]

わたしちちくるまってもらった。[My father bought a car for me.]

ジェーンは山野やまの先生せんせい生花いけばなならった。[Jen learned ikebana from Yamano-sensei.]

A: そのネクタイはだれにもらったんですか。B: ちちにもらいました。[A: From whom did you receive that necktie? B: I got it from my father.]

ぼくはアメリカじん英語えいごおしえてもらった。[I was taught English by an American.]

あにわたし五時間ごじかん運転うんてんさせました。[My older brother made me drive for as long as 5 hours.]

A: 吉田よしださんが結婚けっこんしたそうですよ。B: そうですか。だれにきましたか。[A: I heard that Yoshida-san is married. B: Is that so? What did you hear that from?]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 1:20: ガラガラへびべられた、たり次第しだいべられた [I was eaten by a rattlesnake, I was eaten haphazardly] In this example the rattlesnake is the agent that is eating the passive speaker.

***YouTube videos may be region-locked depending on your country of origin. If you experience issues, please try using a VPN set to a United States IP address.***