I came across this sentence:

パトカーに 捉まってしまいました。

The book I am using, explains に is used here to indicate the passive form. I looked up a video explaining it by Misa from Japanese Ammo. She explains that one of the reasons to use passive form, is to express feeling upset, angry or embarrassed. Apparently Verb te-form + しまいました can be used to express regret or embarrassment. Now, Misa does not explain in that lesson that the passive could also be formed with Verb te-form + しまいました, the website that explains Verb te-form + しまいました does not include passive examples. Can you build the passive with Verb te-form + しまいました instead of the passive form of the verb?

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    What Misa's video is getting at, is that the passive verb form an be used to express that the subject was affected in a negative way, and that -てしまう can also be used to express a negative view of something that happened; but -てしまう is not a passive-form construction. May 26, 2020 at 21:33

1 Answer 1


The passiveness here has nothing to do with てしまう. Your sentence uses the verb 捕まる which means "to be caught". The passive is inherent in the verb choice. Compare this with the verb 捕まえる which means "to catch". Japanese has a lot of verb pairs like this.

The てしまう ending merely adds a sense of regret as you correctly stated.

  • I see. When I looked up 捉まる on jisho I clicked Show inflections and saw that it had a passive form. Now I see that the first translation on jisho even is: "to be caught". More out of curiosity, does 捕まられる have any uses or was it just auto-generated by jisho? ...come to think of it, what about the passive form of 捕まえる? May 26, 2020 at 20:44
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    I think 捕まられる would be weird if you treated it as passive, but the same passive construction can also be used to turn the verb into an honorific version. You could turn the transitive verb 捕まえる into its passive form. This existing question covers that: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/65748/… May 26, 2020 at 21:14
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    (To OP:) To be very clear, there is no passive form involved in the Japanese sentence at all. You'll probably use the passive form in an English translation of it (since the dictionary definition of it already uses English passive form), but the Japanese verb is not in passive form, and there's no particularly good reason to call it that just because that's what it would be in English. It is not expressed either by に nor by てしまう. May 26, 2020 at 21:15
  • @MicahCowan Thanks for making that clear. I'm aware that Japanese grammar treats this simply as an intransitive verb rather than 受身, but I don't understand how they explain the distinction, given that you have an agent marked by に in both cases. Can you shed any light on that? May 26, 2020 at 21:29
  • @MicahCowan The example sentence is sentence 12 of lesson 32 of Japanese with ease by Assimil and in the word for word translation they provide, they literally put "passive-construction" as the translation for に. Thanks for your clarification, gonna put some ~~~~~ lines under it in my book to warn myself when rereading it^^. May 26, 2020 at 21:40

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