I can see that someone got mad or someone made someone else mad. The things that make it difficult are
に and the
られる form of
怒る. What does this mean? How do you figure out who did what in these types of sentences?
It may first bear mentioning that 怒られる is usually used specifically to mean "got scolded by", rather than "to became the focus of someone's anger".
This may make it easier to understand.
- Aは怒った : A got angry
- AはBに怒った : A got angry at B (in this usage, B is usually not a person, but rather an event or state of affairs).
- AはBを怒った : A scolded B (B is a person)
- BはAに怒られた : B got scolded by A.
Maybe the fact that
に is used in both active and passive sentences with
怒る is making it difficult for you.
に can be used either as a dative case marker or as an element leading the agentive-phrase in passive. In English, you can see that the dative is
to, whereas the agentive-phrase is headed by
by, so an active sentence with dative case and its passive counterpart look pretty much different:
A gave a present to B (
toas dative case)
B was given a present by A (
byheading an agentive phrase in passive)
But in Japanese, they are both expressed as
に. So an active sentence with dative case and its passive counterpart may look confusing:
にas dative case)
にheading an agentive phrase in passive)
The two examples above describe (roughly) the same event; in both sentences, A is who scolded, and B is who was scolded. But in the first sentence, it is B that appears with
に, and in the second sentence, it is A. I think that was where you were confused. But you should be able to distinguish the two sentences by looking at whether the verb is in active or passive form. If you see that it is in active form
怒る, then the phrase that comes with
に is the one who is being scolded. If it is in passive form
怒られる, then the phrase that comes with
に is the one who is scolding.
Language hacker raised an interesting point in the comment, so I will add something. You can also see the difference between the two usages of
に when you topicalize the relevant phrase. The dative
に becomes optional in front of
は, but the agentive
に is obligatory:
Aは、Bには怒ったが、Cには怒らなかった (dative case
Aは、Bは怒ったが、Cは怒らなかった (dative case
* Bは、Aは怒られたが、Dは怒られなかった (Ungrammatical to omit agentive
(* indicates ungrammatical sentence.)
This is one of those cases where the Japanese られる doesn't quite line up nicely with the English passive:
Aが怒った。 A got mad.
（私が）Aに怒られた。 (I) was gotten mad at by A. (More naturally in the active: A got mad at me.)
雨が降った。 The rain fell.
（私が）雨に降られた。 (I) was fallen on by the rain. (More naturally: I got rained on.)
With the passive られる, the subject of the sentence (usually 私 if it's omitted) is the "target" (on the receiving end) of the action. In other words, something is done to the subject rather than by the subject. (The by part is marked by に, as sawa mentioned.)
To address your comment about the たい construction, then:
彼女に怒られたい I want to be gotten mad at by her. (More naturally in the active: I want her to get mad at me.)
Also, when に is used not with 怒られる, but with 怒る, it marks the cause of anger:
環境破壊に怒る become angry over destruction of the environment
入場できないことに怒る become angry over not being able to enter
What none of the other answers pointed out is that the
rare passive construction in Japanese actually has two distinct usages, one of which is only tangentially related to English passives but usually clamped together under that terminology when taught. I was originally taught it as the "sufferer passive" (which sounds better in my native language), I've seen it in Japanese as 迷惑の受け身 and one linguistics presentation I've been to called it an Affected Experiencer Construction. Sometimes, a sentence is ambiguous syntactically between the two usages, sometimes it is not.
Unlike regular passives, which take a transitive verb and move the object so it becomes the subject, the 迷惑の受け身 also works with intransitives and can make sentence patterns you wouldn't find with regular passives even when working with transitives. In general, the constuction means that something was done, and someone was affected by experiencing that action - almost always negatively. That
雨に降られた example Derek's answer is exactly this construction, but here are some more examples:
（母は）赤ちゃんに泣かれた。 The baby cried, and that troubled his mother.
パパに死なれた。 Dad died, and that upsets me (a very self-centered thing to say!)
誰かに足を踏まれた。 Someone stepped on my foot, and I don't like that. Note that 足 gets the object particle even though it would have been the subject if this was a normal passive.
太郎が花子に花瓶を壊された。 Hanako broke Taro's vase, and that upset him. Again, 花瓶 is not treated as it would have been in a normal passive sentence. Made even more complicated by something like:
太郎が花子に次郎の花瓶を壊された。 Hanako broke Jiro's vase, and that didn't please Taro (maybe because he would be blamed for breaking it, or for any other contextually available reason)
(To give credit, the last two sentences are derived from that linguistics presentation I mentioned)
What does all that have to do with 怒られた? I think it can be interpreted as an example of this pattern in addition to the classic passive. Someone was mad and I was in trouble because of that (hence, he was mad at me). In addition, since 怒る is listed in my dictionary as an intransitive verb, this syntactic interpretation makes even more sense to me.
Note: Edited after some consultation with native speakers.
I feel your pain. These used to confuse the heck out of me for a long time, so I know where you are coming from.
I'm assuming you are in a situation where you're reading something, and context can be spread out over pages. You find a sentence fragment like 「ボブに怒られた」 and you're wondering if someone is angry at Bob, or Bob is angry at someone. The subject was maybe established three pages ago, and you could maybe go back and check, but you want to be able to keep trucking like a native speaker would, sure in your knowledge of which way the action is flowing.
First, for the purpose of sorting this out, think of に in terms of being a pointer. It says that something is going toward the thing that it is connected to. Anger doesn't really move around like a ball, but just imagine it does.
So we have two cases:
Both sentences have "Bob" and "anger" in them, but, if your confusion is like mine was, you're not sure which of them means Bob is angry, and which means someone is angry at Bob. Or, at least, how to reliably and systematically determine the difference.
In both cases, に points at Bob, so to figure out who is angry, we need to be more precise about what exactly is coming at him. There's a ball of anger coming at him, the type of ball is different because of the different verb form.
In the first case, ボブに怒った, it's just plain anger coming at Bob. The anger ball is being thrown at his head by someone. He just receives someone's anger. Thus, someone is angry at him.
In the second case, ボブに怒られた, what is coming at Bob is the potential to be angry. He is being endowed with anger. This time, because of the verb form, the anger ball is absorbed into Bob, so this time it's Bob that is angry. Something or someone made him angry.
You can at this point, be sure about the direction of the action, without being thrown by the use of に. However, there is more to the story.
You could also translate ボブに怒られた as "Bob scolded [someone]". It's a fragment, so we don't know who Bob is angry at, but the thing is, Bob has been endowed with anger, and anger as a concept is usually directed at someone or something. So Bob is angry, most likely, at the person who threw the anger ball at him. He has still been endowed with anger, so it's still okay to think of it as "Bob was made angry". It's just that the focus is on Bob, and and his anger is probably going somewhere now that he has it.
What if you want to put the focus on the person who made Bob angry? Then you could do this:
This also says "Bob was made angry" or "Bob scolded [someone]" but because of the ~らせる form, the emphasis is on the fact that someone (or something) made Bob angry.
Let's say Taro made Bob angry. If we say 太郎がボブに怒らせた, we are saying that Taro is definitely responsible for Bob's anger, even though Taro might not have done anything deliberately. The point is that focus is on Taro's action.
If we say 太郎がボブに怒られた, we're saying Bob got angry at Taro, even though Taro might not have done a thing to deserve it. The focus is on Bob's reaction.
In short, the point is that に always directs action onto something. But when you use られる, or らせる, you are directing an endowment onto the target. The target then takes on that quality instead of just receiving it.
Hope that helps.