I saw this answer for how the nuance changes between the use of passive and intransitive verbs when the verb is negative. I was wondering what the difference is with a positive verb. Here's an example:



Both of which, I hope, mean "the wallet was found". Is there a difference, or would you just not bother with the passive if an equivalent intransitive verb exists?

Response to duplicate suggestion: I have looked at Passive-transitive-verb vs. Intransitive-verb (他動詞の受け身 vs. 自動詞) but found the answer difficult to follow. In particular I thought example 3 was supposed to be with an intransitive verb but it still seems to be taking an object.


  • 財布が見つけられた is only used in the meaning of "I could find my wallet" in practice.
    – user4092
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 12:54
  • This really shouldn't be a duplicate, the nuance is different and I asked myself the same question when reading the other post. According to most answers here, when there's no difference such as your example, the intransitive version seems to be used.
    – Simon
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


Whether you use intransitive or passive depends mostly on what you want to imply. Passive is used when there's clearly an active agent causing the action (even if the agent isn't explicitly stated). Intransitive doesn't carry that information.

  • ドアが閉まる - The door closes.
  • (彼に)ドアが閉められる - The door is closed (by him).

The first example only means that the door closes. Without context, we have no information on how it closes. It could have closed on its own.

In the second example, though, there's clearly someone else closing the door even if you choose not to include 彼に. (However, adding 彼に makes it sound just as awkward as its English translation in this case.)

Now, some verbs really just go one way or the other, and your example verb happens to fit into that category. 財布が見つかった is clearly the better choice, just because that's the way it is.

  • That makes sense. So if I know that somebody was responsible for losing the wallet then could I use the passive form? @user4092 Could you explain why it is を please? Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 8:27
  • Actually, I'm editing my comment because I feel ドアが閉められる have enough possibility to use, on the other hand.
    – user4092
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 8:35
  • The reason to use を is, ... why you prefer が?
    – user4092
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 8:37
  • ドアが閉められる sounds more natural without 彼に. With 彼に, ドアを閉められる sounds more natural.
    – user4092
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 8:48
  • ドアが instead of ドアを sounds like the door is just about to slam. And, しめられる instead of しまる sounds you are more vulnerable to the door closing.
    – user4092
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 8:58

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