(.) Both Japanese and English can construct sentences such that the main verb is either active or passive. There are two words for "passive voice" in Japanese 受身形 and 受動態.

I know that 受身形 means "passive voice as is constructed using Japanese grammar" such as:

So, I am guessing that 受動態 means "passive voice as is constructed using English grammar" such as:
My car was stolen by Mr. Tanaka.

How are 受身形 and 受動態 used differently?

(.) I know that 能動態 is the antonym of 受動態, and so what is the antonym of 受身形?


They are almost the same, but 受身形【うけみけい】 is preferred by ordinary language leaners, whereas 受動態【じゅどうたい】 is preferred by linguists. Perhaps it's analogous to the difference between "passive form" and "passive voice" in English. 車が盗まれた and My car was stolen are both a 受動態の文 and a 受身形の文. Maybe someone thought the character 態 (voice) was too difficult for beginners.

We also say 受動形【じゅどうけい】. The antonym of 受動形/受身形 is 能動形【のうどうけい】.


Both 受動態 and 受身形 mean passive voice and they are exactly same. Also there are no "corresponding" antonym for 受身形.

This is extra advice: the sentence 私の車が田中さんに盗まれた。is grammatically correct and there is no room for misunderstanding, but sounds unnatural a little bit. The improved sentence would be like 私の車田中さんによって盗まれた。 The postpositional particle "に" indicates doer in sentences with passive voice, but also indicates direction in general. So you can show the function of "に" more clearly by adding "よって". Furthermore, "が" specifies objects stronger than "は". For example, while 私は田中だ。means "I am Tanaka," 私が田中だ。means "I am none other than Tanaka." So unless you want to emphasize the fact that it is nothing other than your car that is stolen, using "は" is recommended. However, if a sentence have a clause:

私の車が田中さんによって盗まれたことは残念なことだ。 (It is pity that my car was stolen by Mr. Tanaka.)

and if "は" is used in main part, then it is better to use "が" instead of "は" because the content of the clause is worth emphasizing; otherwise we won't use clause.

  • 1
    Wouldn't it be easier to say something like 「私は田中に車を盗まれた」? I'm not a native speaker, but I would argue によって sounds a bit clunky here because of how formal it sounds. I could be wrong, but I also feel like によって is used more often for means rather than people in casual speech?
    – Shurim
    Jan 22 at 16:02
  • I agree with Shurim, 私の車が田中さんに盗まれた sounds perfectly fine to me. によって is wordy and unnatural.
    – naruto
    Jan 23 at 3:54
  • I'm sorry, the expression "unnatural" was inappropriate. What I meant is that に cannot be always used to indicate doer. In a sentence "このメールは彼に送られた", に indicates general direction and cannot be replaced by によって; If we say "このメールは彼によって送られた", this is "This e-mail is sent by him," and they are not interchangeable. This is because the verb 送るcan take に as a direction indicator while 盗む isn't. So it's easy for beginners to distinguish and use them separately, but, as you all mentioned above, you can use に instead if possible so that sounds more natural and casual. Thanks.
    – Qwert
    Jan 23 at 23:55

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