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I'm confused about the difference between the passive form and the てある form.

飲み物はもう買ってあります

The drinks have already been bought.

飲み物はもう買われました

The drinks were already bought.

Are my translations correct? Is it that verb-てある means 'verb has been done', whereas, verb-passive means 'verb was done'? Are there any other subtleties? Thanks.

  • 1
    I'm clicking the 'Mark as duplicate' box because the answer there is very helpful, but answers here have made an important contribution to my understanding. – user3856370 Aug 4 '15 at 18:15
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Are my translations correct?

I could not say 'no', but as a Japanese-speaker, I do know that you basically would never hear one of us say 「飲{の}み物{もの}はもう買{か}われました。」 to mean anything. It certainly does not mean the same as 「飲み物はもう買ってあります」.

「飲み物はもう買ってあります」 is a 100% natural-sounding sentence so I do not have to think about what it could mean. It could only mean one thing: "I/We bought drinks some time ago for a specific purpose and they are still here waiting to be consumed."

With 「飲み物はもう買われました。」, however, one would have to think hard about what it could possibly mean as it is such a strange-sounding sentence to the native ear. It could mean something like "The drinks that I wanted to buy had already been bought by another person.", but to say that it would be more natural to use 「買われていました」 than to use 「買われました」.

  • +1 from another native Japanese speaker – Hideki Aug 3 '15 at 23:28
  • +1 from another nonnative Japanese speaker. – Friendly Ghost Aug 4 '15 at 14:21
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To the questioner, with my today ( Aug 3 )'s comment, I made a HUGE MISTAKE which could not only perplex you but in resulting to tell you a COMPLETE LIE..

Kindly endure to read the full sentence, I am CERTAIN you can have at least some clear image about the ( Japanese passive voice ).

Now, I am afraid I am not so sure how you made such a conclusion like this.

From previous questions I've come to understand that Japanese favours a first person subject.

But I can not "despise" you. Granted, let us look at an example at another thread.

But thorough the discourse with you, I think I have figured it out

Mr. l'électeur answers,

「Aの質問は私に、そしてBの質問はマサコさんによって答えられました。」

= "Question A was answered by me and Question B, by Masako."

With the comment about 10 hours ago, I said in this passive voice ( I am sorry not passive --"mode"-- but the passive --"voice"--), the eventual, the actual, the de facto subjects are Aの質問は or either, Bの質問は. But that was a HUGE MISTAKE TO LEAD YOU TO THE COMPLETE MISUNDERSTANDINGS with an apology.

They are, instead, the direct --"object"-- ( not the "subject" with sorry ). The reason will be developed hereunder so kindly take a look with thank you in advance.

As I quoted as below, the Wiki's explanation,

日本語の受身は助動詞「れる」「られる」(文語では「る」「らる」)を用いて表現する。英語の受動文などに相当する直接受身と、英語などには見られない間接受身がある。

Translation

The Japanese passive voice uses the auxiliary 「れる」「られる」( in literary style 「る」,「らる」 ) to express the passive voice. Note there is a direct passive voice, which is equivalent to the English passive and another, an indirect passive voice which does not exist in English..

I think the above example falls into the direct voice. The reason is below.

From the very same source

間接受身は間接的に影響(ふつうは主語から見て悪影響)を被るものを主語に立てる表現であり、通常、主語は人間である。

Translation :

The indirect voice, which takes the form to express an influence ( ---"generally unfavorable influence"--- ) onto the subject, and the subject is generally human beings.

In the above example, anything bad ( unfavorable ) is occurring??.

No. So I took this sentence as the direct passive voice.

Granted, for the further development of the reason why I thought the bove example as the direct passive voice, let us take a look at the different ( but from the same source ) explanation.

直接受身は、能動文における直接目的語または間接目的語を主語にするものである。

Translation

In the ( Japanese ) direct passive voice, it takes either the direct --object-- or the indirect --object-- as a --subject-- in the active voice.

And I think the above example is taking the --indirect object--.

Now let's take a look at the definition of the "indirect object"

The above link is describing the object in general in a speech.

And it says,

行為の直接的な対象を表す直接目的語(主として対格、日本語では「を」等で示される)と、その行為によって間接的に影響を受ける対象を表す間接目的語(主として与格、日本語では「に」等で示される)に分類される。

Translation

The object can be categorized into 2 categories. The one is the direct object, which denotes substances or phenomenons influenced directly by the action of the subject ( mainly in linguistics the accusative case, in Japanese it follows frequently the postpositional particle 「を」 ) and the other is the indirect object which denotes the indirect influence by the action of the subject. ( in linguistics the dative case, in Japanese generally it follows the postpositional particle 「に」 )

Thus by the above reasons I concluded the above example is the direct passive voice because, ----the defacto, the actual "subject" is 「私に」, 「マサコさんに」---- I think here is very important and the reason why I thought these 2 are the de facto subject is as the following ( as I said below. )

From the [below source][3]

元の動作の主語(動作主)を表示するには「に」を用いるのが一般的だが、事物の属性を説明する場合などは「によって」が用いられる。また元の主語からの物の移動(授受)を表す場合は「から」を用いることができる。

Translation

In the Japanese direct passive voice, in order to express the de facto subject which causes the action, the postpositional particle 「に」is generally used. The one of the exception is, the phrase 「によって」is used particularly in order to express the properties, characteristics of things. And the other exception, which follows the postposititional particle 「から」 which is used when denoting the "change" or the "movement" by the subject to the others.

From the above reason I concluded the actual subjects are 「私に」,「マサコさんに」.

WHY IS THE JAPANESE PASSIVE VOICE SO COMPLICATED??

I think the reason is below ( mentioned in the below original. )

受身の起源

受身の助動詞「(ら)れる」の機能は、元来は人が意志的に行うのではないことを表現する自発であると考えられている。場合によっては受身か自発か明確でないこともある。上記の制限や間接受身も、この性格に由来すると思われる。

Translation

The origin of Japanese passive voice.

The Japanese auxiliary 「(ら)れる」, in its origin functioned to have denoted the active voice, which denotes the unintentional movement by the subject to the event in the speech. It should be mentioned sometimes it is hard to distinguish if the passive mode denotes either the passive or active. The above limitation of the passive mode and the characteristic of the indirect passive mode are thought to have come from this origin.

NOW LET'S TRY TO "CONVERT" THE ABOVE EXAMPLE TO THE ACTIVE VOICE.

「Aの質問は私に、そしてBの質問はマサコさんによって答えられました。」

---> converted to the active voice

「私が質問Aを答え,そしてマサコさんが質問Bを答えました。」

Translation

I answered the question A, and Masako-san answered the question B.

Is the idea getting clearer now?? ( I hope -:) )

In the Japanese ( direct ) passive mode, taking the above example, the both actual, "authentic" subject 「私に」, 「マサコさんに」 can be converted to the subjects in the active voice.

I think I myself got the idea. ( I don't know I could convey my intention to you. ) The Japanese direct passive voice, which does exist in English too will be applied to the above sample.

Now here is my assumption why the Japanese passive voice is so difficult.

I think the reason is perhaps, this kind of passive voice is made in order to evade denouncing the subject directly ( in my opinion ) or by the reason mentioned below

From the same below source says,

被動作者の意志によらないことを強調すること。日本語ではこの意義が特に重要であると考えられる。

Translation

( The objective or the purpose of the passive mode are these ( another purposes are abbreviated on purpose by me due to the reason they are explaining the purpose of the passive voice in another languages. ) --> 3. It is made in order to emphasize the "uncontrollable" event by the subject. --- In Japanese this purpose is quite critical ---

I hope you can understand. Have a nice day.


I happened to have found an easy source. ( Wikipedia )

( However the below explanation will be difficult to you with sorry. However, if an answerer is asked WHY? I have to go into the grammar because otherwise I can not provide you with the logical explanation ( If you would like to run over easily, then please express it in the question ))

日本語の受身は助動詞「れる」「られる」(文語では「る」「らる」)を用いて表現する。英語の受動文などに相当する直接受身と、英語などには見られない間接受身がある。

Translation

The Japanese passive mode uses the auxiliary 「れる」「られる」( in literary style 「る」,「らる」 ) to express the passive mode. Note there is a direct passive mode, which is equivalent to the English passive and another, an indirect passive mode which does not exist in English..

Now kindly be noted, from the very same source

日本語の直接受身の用法には、英語などの受動態に比較して制限がある。受動態の主語(被動作者)として使えるのは主に人(有情物)であり、事物を主語にする「この会社は1976年に設立された」などの言い方は、主として明治以降に翻訳用に用いられるようになったものである。

Translation

The Japanese direct passive mode has its own limitation for the usage unlike that of English. The actual subject is generally human beings ( ( or something that has an emotional heart ), thus the above mentioned example

「この会社は1976年に設立された」 ( This company was founded in 1976. )

which takes things as the de facto subject, appeared only after Meiji era generally for the translation's technique sake.

Now here, I can not decide which one ( the direct passive or the indirect passive ) your speech will fall into.

受身の起源

受身の助動詞「(ら)れる」の機能は、元来は人が意志的に行うのではないことを表現する自発であると考えられている。場合によっては受身か自発か明確でないこともある。上記の制限や間接受身も、この性格に由来すると思われる。

Translation

The origin of Japanese passive mode.

The Japanese auxiliary 「(ら)れる」, in its origin functioned to have denoted the active. mode, which denotes the unintentional movement by the person concerned with the event in the speech. It should be mentioned sometimes it is hard to distinguish if the passive mode denotes either the passive or active. The above limitation of the passive mode and the characteristic of the indirect passive mode are thought to have come from this origin.

If you do not care, it is O.K. But I am a type of a guy who can not provide an answer with the evidence.

Granted, I hypothetically take your speech as the direct passive mode, per the comment line's adviser's recommendation, which exists too in English.

飲み物はもう買われました。

This speech, per the explanation above,

The actual subject is generally --->human beings<----, thus the above mentioned example

So let's try to swap the 飲み物 by 女 ( a woman ( Although this is not a good example. ))

女はもう買われました。

which makes sense, meaning ( The woman was bought. ( Please guess what it means, I can not articulate openly here )). And please note by swapping it by human beings, the woman becomes a -- subject--

Then granted, your last speech

飲み物はもう買われました。

should have used the human beings instead, logically thinking, despite the existence of exceptions.

Now, What is the difference from てある form from the passive mode??

Kindly take a look at this site.

これだけは覚えよう 1 「Vてあります」(普通形「Vてある」)は、意図的な働きかけの結果変化したNの状態を表わすときに使います。

Translation

Let's learn at least this. 1 「Vてあります」 ( generally 「Vてある」) denotes result of the change of the N by the intentional action V ( by the subject.))

Conclusion

Your first speech indicates the condition as a result of your intentional action (V), while regarding the passive mode, I can not say so much due to the above reason ( about the explanation of the passive mode. ( as l'électeur says, it sounds unnatural to the native speakers. ))

Have a nice day.

  • 1
    I very much appreciate your effort to translate all of that. Thanks. I think we're dealing with direct passive here. But, I'm still having a hard time understanding how it is different from the てある form. – user3856370 Aug 3 '15 at 18:06
  • I'm assuming it is direct passive because the verb 'to buy' is transitive. And, because indirect passive sentences don't translate naturally to the English passive e.g. 父に早く死なれた -> I was died on early by my father (my father died young). I think my final understanding, piecing together everyone's answers, is that with てある the focus of the sentence is on the final state after the action is complete, but this is not the case with the passive form. The passive form merely states that something was done. – user3856370 Aug 4 '15 at 18:09
  • ...continued. From previous questions I've come to understand that Japanese favours a first person subject. So it would be strange to say that 'the drinks were already bought (by me)' when I could say 'I already bought the drinks'. I think this fits with what you said about the passive form. Many thanks for your help – user3856370 Aug 4 '15 at 18:11
  • I am sorry I made a HUGE MISTAKE TO LEAD YOU MISUNDERSTANDING I am sorry, please give me time. I apologize. – Kentaro Tomono Aug 5 '15 at 4:17
  • IN SHORT, the DE FACTO SUBJECTS of the sample in the link are 「私に」 and 「マサコさんに」. – Kentaro Tomono Aug 5 '15 at 11:17

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