I've seen this construction a few times but couldn't find it in my textbooks, so I'd like to know how it's called and, if possible, how it works.

Since it was pretty much unclear, here I add some clarifications on what I'd like to know.

Here's an example:


How does it work and what's the function of the 2nd に particle? I was told that it works the same way as AはBにVpass as in 私は子供に泣かれた。 This one is understandable. I see the person who got an action done to, I see the doer and I see the action itself. But what about that construction the I mentioned before?

Here's an explanation I got from a guy on the internet:

The 1st に represents relations between В and А

Who made A upset? (Who did a negative action towards A?) Вに

The 2nd に represents an action made by B towards C

To whom B called? Cに

I don't seem to get how those 2 に interact with each other in such a way that makes them have 2 different meanings while being a one part of a simple sentence. Also, I don't understand how to use this construction and what's more how to translate it when a different verb occurs.

I hope I made some clarifications and did not confuse you even more. Looking forward to see some explanations and maybe a couple of examples. Thank you.

  • 2
    Are you certain that the verb was in the passive-voice form ~~された? If possible, could you rewrite the sentence using actual words instead of A, B and C? You may ignore my second question, but my first is very important.
    – user4032
    Nov 24, 2019 at 1:52
  • 2
    Can you post an actual example of a sentence, from real Japanese source? Because the A, B, C example is a bit confusing. If those are persons AさんはBさんにCさんに電話された doesn't make sense to me. Maybe AさんはBさんにCさんに電話させられた ? A was forced by B to call C ? (And A is almost always me, and I didn't like it) Nov 24, 2019 at 2:03
  • @l'électeur, yes, a guy from Japanese related chat gave me the original sentence as an example.
    – Tawahachee
    Nov 24, 2019 at 21:50
  • @Thomas Petit, I assume that It must look like "AさんはBさんにCさんに" but the verb was indeed in passive voice.
    – Tawahachee
    Nov 24, 2019 at 21:51
  • 1
    If the verb was really passive voice, then I would say it's just probably a mistake by the person who gave you that line. But I'm not 100% sure, it would be nice to have a confirmation by a native speaker. Nov 25, 2019 at 7:15

1 Answer 1


This isn't really a separate construction, but the standard passive construction where the verb requires a noun+に.

Consider the following two 間接受動/{被害,迷惑}の受け身 sentences. (I am using unnatural translations (hopefully) for clarity.)

  • 私は財布を盗まれた : I had someone having stolen my purse.
  • 私は親に電話された : I had someone having called my parents.

(The speaker of the second sentence is a kid who got caught lifting something in a convenience store, for example.)

Both express that the speaker did not like something someone did (stealing a purse, calling the parents).

Now someone can be revealed by putting Noun+に, just as in usual passive. E.g., 私は殴られた/私は彼に殴られた : I was hit / I was hit by him.

  • 私は彼に財布を盗まれた : I had him having stolen my purse. = I had my purse stolen by him.
  • 私は彼に親に電話された : I had him having called my parents. = He called my parents, which I hated.

Thus the consecutive に phrases are not really interacting. The first に is the standard に in passive for indicating who did the action, while the second に complements the verb. In the particular example of the question, the second に is required by the verb 電話する.


Another example:

  • 私は彼に先に行かれた : (E.g., in a race) He went ahead, which made me uncomfortable.

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