Hello I was wondering if I could use a 自動詞 with the 受身形 for example:

 ここから、月が見える : from here, the moon is visible (I can see the moon)

 ここから、月が見えられる : from here, the moon is visible

I don't understand much the difference between except that in the second one, I feel like it is supposed that there is someone looking at the sky, and the moon is visible by him I think...

I know it could also mean "the moon can be visible" but my question is about the passive voice

Another example:



The second sentence doesn't make much sense to me, I would like to know if I'm wrong and how you understand these sentences, thanks!

  • In English at least, you cannot use the passive voice with intransitive verbs. I suspect Japanese intransitives are the same, but I'm not sure.
    – red shoe
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 14:40
  • 1
    Did you make these example sentences up, or did you find them somewhere?
    – Blavius
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 17:19
  • 1
    Are you aware of the 迷惑受け身 (such as 親に死なれる, shinu is intransitive); and do you want to exclude this particular usage from this question?
    – blutorange
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 18:08
  • 1
    見えられる and 落ちられる are not a word.
    – user4092
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


Yes, it is very possible to use the passive with an intransitive verb in Japanese. It just has a different meaning than what you normally think of when you use passive.

Japanese actually has two types of passives. The first is the one you already know- an action is done to the subject by the agent. The subject is marked with は/が and the agent is marked with に. This can only be used with transitive verbs.

彼は車に押し倒された。 He was knocked over by a car.

The second one is often called a "suffering passive". It means something happened, and inflicted misfortune onto someone else. Unlike the first passive, this one doesn't have a direct English equivalent. The subject is the one who "suffers" and is marked with は/が, the agent is marked with に, and the direct object (if the verb is transitive) is marked with を.

私は蛇に脚をかまれた。A snake bit me in the leg. (Transitive)

私は妻に死なれた。My wife died. (Intransitive)

(Native speakers would probably omit the 私は, but I added it for completeness.)

In these examples, the subject/topic is suffering from the action. You should also note that the it is almost always animate. To have an inanimate object suffer wouldn't make much sense.

  • Thanks for the explanation I was confused about how to use the suffering passive
    – Tchang
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 13:27

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