I translated the sentence "あれは魔術師に与えられた祝福” to something along the line of "That is something that was given a blessing by a sorcerer" but in the translation that I compared it to, the translator translated it to "That is a blessing to sorcerer" (Something that bestows blessing instead of being blessed, so in this case, it's the sorcerer getting blessed instead of the "あれ” subject). So my question is what did I get wrong?


3 Answers 3


あれは魔術師与えられた祝福(だ) is ambiguous.

  • That is a blessing given to a sorcerer.
    (the same as あれは魔術師与えられた祝福だ, which is unambiguous)
  • That is a blessing given by a sorcerer.
    (the same as あれは魔術師{から/より}与えられた祝福だ, which is unambiguous)

(Replace "blessing" to "blessed item" if you like.)

In this case, both seem equally possible, so you have to decide the more plausible interpretation purely from the context. Likewise, 彼に渡された手紙 means both "the letter passed to him" and "the letter passed from him" depending on the context.

Japanese relative clauses work by dropping a particle, and sometimes have inherent ambiguity like this. There are many similar questions on this site.

EDIT: Here's the detailed breakdown.

  • 誰かが魔術師に祝福を与えた。
    Someone gave a blessing to a sorcerer.
  • (誰かによって)魔術師に祝福与えられた。
    A blessing was given to a sorcerer (by someone).
  • 魔術師に与えられた祝福
    the blessing which was given to a sorcerer
  • 魔術師が誰かに祝福を与えた。
    A sorcerer gave a blessing to someone.
  • (誰かが)魔術師に祝福与えられた。
    Someone was given a blessing by a sorcerer.
  • 魔術師に与えられた祝福
    the blessing which was given by a sorcerer

Notice the particle in bold (が/を) has been dropped.

  • Though in this case the dropped particle issue from relative clauses is not relevant, right? It’s just an ambiguity of if the に-marked indirect object is bound to the base verb or -(r)areru Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 23:46
  • @DariusJahandarie Hmm...the un-relativized versions would be "(彼から)魔術師に祝福与えられた" and "(彼が)魔術師に祝福与えられた", so if there were something like a relative pronoun in Japanese, I think the relativized sentences might look different.
    – naruto
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 23:59
  • Fascinating, I see now. Thanks! Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 3:59

I am almost positive the sentence means "That is a blessing, bestowed by a sorcerer."

The 魔術師に与えられた expands the word "祝福". The sentence could just be あれは祝福 - "that is a blessing", but there is extra information in that it was bestowed by a sorcerer, the 与えられる is passive form of 与える.


I agree with the other translator. What you are missing is that “られ” after the verb indicates passive voice, so the verb is acting on the sorcerer.

I like this source that goes over a lot of the verb endings.


  • 1
    I was reading Tae Kim's guide and came across several examples like this one "ポリッジが誰かに食べられた" which in the page translates to "The porridge was eaten by somebody." So I was assuming the same to the sentence above, what're the differences between the two of them? Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 8:12
  • ^ @Minh, The difference is that 与える can take two objects (indirect and direct objects: (誰かが)魔術師祝福与えた → (誰かによって)魔術師祝福が与えられた) while 食べる can take only one object (direct object: 誰かがポリッジ食べた → ポリッジが誰かに食べられた)
    – chocolate
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 8:13

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