Can the passive agent be gapped in a relative clause? I mean, can the head of a relative clause be the passive agent (the word that would be marked by に)?

  • I'm not sure I follow. Could you include some examples of what you're thinking about? Nov 24 '20 at 5:59
  • Something like this: 私は誰かにご飯を食べられた。ご飯を食べられた人は誰なんだろう。 Nov 24 '20 at 6:05
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    @ignorantFid Note that 私が is important (私がご飯を食べられた人) if you really mean that, as shown in broccoli's answer. Otherwise ご飯を食べられた人 would just mean "someone who had his meal eaten by someone".
    – naruto
    Nov 24 '20 at 6:59

Yes, as long as the subject (patient) is animate.

私が叱られた先生 the teacher I was scolded by
私が財布を盗まれた泥棒 the thief I had my wallet stolen by
私が降られた雨 the rain I got caught in (indirect passive)

Note that, however, the core meaning of the Japanese passive is telling the subject's status being affected by others' action. Thus if you don't have intention to focus on the passive patient (like simply changing the subject), you should keep using the active voice.


Passive with inanimate subject is a marginal usage in Japanese and doesn't have this perk. Usually they don't even mark the agent with に.

× この本が書かれた作家

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    Someone just told me in Ishizuka's book (The Passive in Japanese, a cartographic minimalist approach), section (page 75), she judges the following sentence impossible: *Ken-ga tukamae-rare-ta keisatu-kan-ga yuumei-ni nat-ta. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the book. Does that cast doubt on this? Nov 24 '20 at 18:36
  • @ignorantFid I haven't read either, but that example sounds pretty likely to be the case "if you don't have intention to focus on the passive patient ... you should keep using the active voice." But when you do? Then another feature of Japanese kicks in: you should use paired intransitive (つかまる) before passive of transitive (つかまえられる) if you focus on the subject's side. Nov 27 '20 at 4:48
  • @broccoli Here is a screenshot of the section with more judgments: imgur.com/a/Eh94THm Curious to see what you think. The author seems to reject the construction entirely. Nov 27 '20 at 19:39
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    @DariusJahandarie Thanks for the picture. It says "resistance to relativization", so I guess it's not a complete rejection (though those examples are less acceptable for each reason). No passive relativization at all sounds like an overstatement to me. For example, a sentence like ケンが降られた雨は放射能が含まれていた is nothing wrong. Nov 28 '20 at 2:56

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