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I would like to use the passive form in describing the fact that a flower has been watered.

Is この花は水をやられた correct? What difference does この花は水がやられた make or would that be incorrect?

A brief explanation of the use of が in passive phrases would also be appreciated.

15

We say neither:

「この花は水やられた。」

nor

「この花は水やられた。」

for two reasons. These "sentences" sound far more strange and incorrect to native speakers than you could probably imagine.

Reason 1:

While the "grammatical" passive-voice form of 「やる」 is certainly 「やられる」, the latter generally has a fairly negative connotation. "To have something undesirable done (to you)" is the usual meaning/nuance of 「やられる」.

Reason 2:

Inanimate subject -- 「この花」. It is not nearly as common in Japanese as it is in English. Japanese-learners tend to use the inanimate subject in Japanese because they directly translate from their native languages.

Thus, while "This flower was watered." is a perfectly natural English sentence, 「この花は水をやられた 」 is not a sentence native Japanese-speakers would ever form under normal circumstances. It is that off. Direct translation is dangerous between two unrelated languages.

So, how would we say "This flower was watered."? I would use the unmentioned "I" and say:

「この花には(もう)水がやってある。」 or

「この花には(もう)水をやりました。」

Notice both are in active-voice. The passive-voice simply would not work here unless you want an awkward, wordy and unnatural sentence like:

「この花はすでに水を与えられています。」

You would sound like a robot (or Google Translate) if you said that.

A brief explanation of the use of が in passive phrases would also be appreciated.

This is what I take you to be talking about.

「A + Bが + passive-voice verb」

means:

"As for A, B has been ~~." ← B is part of A.

You can say things like:

「私肝臓{かんぞう}やられている。」 = "As for me, my liver is damaged."

「Aさんの家、台風{たいふう}で屋根{やね}吹{ふ}き飛{と}ばされてしまった。」 = "As for A's house, its roof has been blown off by the typhoon."

  • I was under the impression that passive agent is always marked by に、にょって or から, and not で? (In your last example) – user1602 Aug 21 at 5:59
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You should say この花には水がやってある or この花は水がやってある.
But この花は水をやられた and この花は水がやられた may be grammatically correct.
この花は水がやられた may sound like another flower may be poured a kind of liquid apart from water to.

私は腕を掴まれた。
私は腕が掴まれた。

Both mean “My arm was caught.” But second one sounds like Another one’s leg or hand may have been caught.

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