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?


  • 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.
    – user1478
    Sep 17 '13 at 18:23

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).

  • 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
  • @kinyo Well, they're almost direct translations. They mean present continuous form, future form, and past perfect form...
    – user1478
    Sep 17 '13 at 21:21
  • @kinyo: Sounds about right. Here's what my dictionary says. 使役の助動詞「させる」の未然形+受身の助動詞「られる」.
    – istrasci
    Sep 18 '13 at 19:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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