Could I say these sentences this way?

Hanako was possessed by a ghost.


A ghost possessed Hanako



1 Answer 1


憑依する is a correct word, but it is an intransitive verb that takes に. You have to say:

The ghost possessed Hanako.
(or 幽霊 if "A ghost ...")

When you want to rephrase this with 花子 as the subject, yes, it's okay to say:

Hanako was possessed by a ghost.

If you thought "Wait, passive voice of an intransitive verb!?", remember there is something called "sufferer passive" or "indirect passive" in Japanese (e.g., 妻に死なれた, 雨に降られた). Even an intransitive verb works like this (as long as Hanako is negatively affected by the possession).

取り付く is a wago version of this, and it's intransitive, too.

The ghost possessed/haunted Hanako.

Hanako was possessed/haunted by a ghost.

取り付く does not necessarily mean the ghost "gets in" and takes full control. As is the case with most kango-wago pairs, 憑依 sounds technical and specifically refers to the spirit possession, whereas 取り付く has other usages.

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