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. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Consider these example sentences taken from SPACEALC:

[a] (人に)電話をかける。 "put in a call to ~"

[b] ~が(主語に)電話をかける。 "receive a telephone call from"

My observations: Both sentences use かける. Transitivity is unchanged, there is no use of られる construction to indicate passive sentence structure. Yet one is "to call" and one is "to receive the call". So [a] and [b] do not seem to be consistent.

In an attempt to resolve the inconsistency, I looked for other examples. Consider other sentence also from SPACEALC:

[c] (~から)電話がかかってくる。 "get called (主語に)"

[c] leads me to conclude that かかる is the intransitive counterpart to かける, and sentence [b] should be wrong.

(Question) How do I express "calling" and "receiving a call"? Is the passive form of かける used at all?(I.e. かけられる)? Or is the passive of かかる used at all?

(Question) Can I call the person performing the calling 電話をかける人 and the person who is receiving the call 電話がかかる人 ?

share|improve this question
Pray tell why the downvote? – Flaw Nov 26 '11 at 15:54
Translation of [b] is a bad one. It does not mean receive. All the remaining part of this question is based on this low quality translation in the source, and does not make much sense. – user458 Nov 27 '11 at 3:55
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You are confused by the translation. (I didn't realize the translation can be so confusing in the site.)

[a] (人に)電話をかける。 "put in a call to ~"

Here "~" is 人

[b] ~が(主語に)電話をかける。 "receive a telephone call from"

Here the part before に is the subject(主語) of the translation. So "~" is the part after "from" : "主語 receive a telephone call from ~"

So you can see, "AがBに電話をかける" means "A calls B". You can translate it as "B receives a call from A".

I don't think 電話がかかる人 is correct (電話をかける人 is OK, though). You can say 電話を受ける人 to refer to the one received the call.

share|improve this answer
Yes. Finally, you gave the right answer to this question. In short, the cited website was wrong, and this was not a real question, as I commented to the question. – user458 Dec 26 '11 at 19:22

If you are okay with WWWJDIC as a credible source:

As for the second question, I see nothing wrong with 電話をかける and 電話がかかる modifying . It's grammatical, at least. There is novel/movie titled "時をかける少女" after all :P

share|improve this answer
電話をかける人 seems a bit of a mouthful to say "caller". Is there a shorter term for it? – Flaw Nov 25 '11 at 8:16
There is 電話の掛け手 for "caller" and 電話の受け手 for "callee", but I'm not sure if they are commonly used or not. – Lukman Nov 25 '11 at 9:28
"電話がかかる人" means "a person to whom someone can call." "かける" in "時をかける少女" means "run". – user458 Nov 25 '11 at 17:44
Within context caller can be かけた人. Informally, 電話の人 and in some cases just general 'third-person' constructs like 先の人 also works. If formality is needed as you might expect it isn't short, but 電話主{でんわぬし}, 電話の主{ぬし}or 電話をくださった方 are also used in addition to your example. – jlptnone Nov 27 '11 at 9:09

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.