Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

what are the Japanese, and English, technical terms for these verb transforms:


and this: 読まれる、買われる、書かれる、...

and this: 読ませる、買わせる、書かせる、...

Is there a standard term that textbooks use to call the changing of verb stems into those 3 different forms? "Verb conjugation" sounds natural, however "conjugate" does not sound correct in the context.

What do Japanese students call the changing of verbs into those 3 different forms?


share|improve this question
Japanese as taught to non-native speakers (日本語教育) usually describes these differently than Japanese school grammar (国文法). For instance, in the latter, 読まれる isn't a single inflectional form. Instead, it's the inflectional form 読ま, plus the inflectable suffix れる. –  snailboat Sep 17 '13 at 18:23
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

読める、買える、書ける、... → Potential Form (可能形)

and this: 読まれる、買われる、書かれる、... → Passive form (受け身形)

and this: 読ませる、買わせる、書かせる、... → Causative form (使役【しえき】形)

"Conjugation" is correct, and you can say 動詞の活用(形).

share|improve this answer
That's exactly what I was looking for. thanks. As an aside: For awhile I've been using the term "受動態" for "passive voice", but only in reference to English sentences written in passive voice. Any thoughts on how to equate "受動態" with "受身形"? –  kinyo Sep 17 '13 at 19:00
I'd never heard the term 受動態 before, but apparently they are equivalent. The though means "form", so 受動態 seems like the more general "passive voice". –  istrasci Sep 17 '13 at 19:27
definitely agree. I should have been using "受身形". But, I think of "形" as "tense" because these are direct translations of English verb tenses: 現在進行形 未来形 過去完了形 ... So, as soon as you wrote "形" at the end of your translations, I knew that's exactly what I wanted. I totally appreciate it. –  kinyo Sep 17 '13 at 19:59
@kinyo Well, they're almost direct translations. They mean present continuous form, future form, and past perfect form... –  snailboat Sep 17 '13 at 21:21
I forgot to ask what are the English and Japanese terms for these conjugations: 読ませられる 買わせられる 書かせられる ... English = "causative passive form"??? Japanese = 使役受身形(しえきうけみけい)??? –  kinyo Sep 18 '13 at 18:08
show 1 more comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.