From what I understand the particle に marks the doer in passive voice sentences, but I found this one in a book:


The に particle here as a "marking the doer" doesn't make any sense to me. Is the meaning of に in passive sentences determined by the context?

2 Answers 2


Yes, in general, something like 彼女に渡された is an ambiguous expression; this 彼女 can be either the giver or the receiver depending on the context and the other particles in the sentence. Similar ambiguity happens when a verb related to giving or passing is used in the passive form.

However, there is no ambiguity in your sentence. There is already あいつから which clearly specifies the giver, so 彼女に marks the receiver of the book. In addition, if 彼女 is the giver, you have to mark 本 using を, not が:

[I] was given a book by/from her.

The book was passed to her.

For more discussion regarding this type of ambiguity in passive sentences, see:


It’s dependent on the verb.

In your example, 彼女に渡す is used in the passive form. In other words, に is more strongly bound to the verb 渡す than to the passive construction.

If you need to add the agent (i.e. the doer of 渡す) in that sentence without using から, you would most likely say:



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