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Okay, so I'm confused about passive verbs.

From how I understand it, the verb is performed on the subject.

but how come you can say something like

明日の会議に行かれるんですか? Are you going to tomorrow's meeting?

why not something along the lines of: 明日の会議に行きませんか?

so as far as I can tell, "go" (行かれる) is not performed on the subject, you (implied).

Could someone explain how this works in this sentence?

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明日の会議に行きませんか? is an invitation to go the meeting. –  Bathrobe Mar 8 '12 at 12:43
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted
明日の会議に行かれるんですか? Are you going to tomorrow's meeting?

The above sentence should not be interpreted as passive, it is 敬語. In other words depending on context, the forms される、行かれる、etc. can mean either passive or honorific form (usually it is easy to tell the difference by the context).

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+1 Nice point about the 尊敬 focus, here. –  summea Mar 7 '12 at 22:16
    
okay. got it. so the + されるform can be used as honorific form or passive form. thank you! –  Mel Mar 8 '12 at 5:25
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I don't understand at all what you mean by "performed on the subject", but in the most natural interpretation, the sentence you gave is not passive. It is subject honorific form. And the sentence 明日の会議に行きませんか? that you suggested will mean a different thing.

And although very unnatural, it is in principle possible to interpret your example as passive. In that case, it will not be a direct (ordinary) passive, but will be adversative (aka indirect) passive, meaning someone did something, which (often negatively) affected the subject. The standard way to literally translate this into English is to use on <subject>.

雨に降られた
'{The rain fell/It rained} on me.'
'{The rain fell/It rained}, affecting me.'

二階の人にピアノを弾かれた
'The person on the second floor played the piano on me.'
'The person on the second floor played the piano, affecting me.'

So a very unnatural interpretation of your sentence as adversative passive will be like this:

明日の会議に行かれるんですか?
'Will the person go to tomorrow's meeting on you?'
'Will it be the case that you will be (negatively) affected due to the person's going to tomorrow's meeting?'

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thank you. its clearer now. I've been trying to interpret it as passive. –  Mel Mar 8 '12 at 5:25
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