I'm trying to better grasp the passive voice in Japanese based on these four sentences. So far I can tell that the first sentence is direct passive and the second and third one indirect passive.

  1. 私はお姉ちゃんに食べられた。
  1. This implies that I was eaten by my sister quite literally.
  1. 私はお姉ちゃんにケーキを食べられた。
  1. By having a direct object this implies that MY cake was eaten and not me.
  1. お姉ちゃんに私のケーキを食べられた
  1. Now this is where I was questioning myself if this even acceptable to say. I know the second sentence is the more natural one but I wanted to know if this one is correct or does not make any sense.
  1. 私のケーキはお姉ちゃんに食べられた。
  1. And lastly there is this sentence that is bugging me since I think it has the same meaning as the second one. Only that it is in direct passive form.

Any help clearing the differences will be appreciated.

2 Answers 2


The third sentence is fine.

  1. お姉ちゃんに私のケーキを食べられた。

I would say it’s more natural than the second as a standalone sentence.

  1. 私はお姉ちゃんにケーキを食べられた。

私は stands out in this sentence as if you are contrasting your situation with someone else’s.


If no such contrast is intended, you should remove 私 altogether.


Unless context suggests otherwise, you, as the speaker, are still understood as the “sufferer.”

The difference from #3 is simply that this sentence is less specific about the cake belonging to you. It could be that your sister ate a cake you had kept aside for your mother.

The following sentence is also perfectly fine.


The cake belonged to your mother, but you are the one “suffering” from your sister eating it.

The fourth sentence is also correct.

  1. 私のケーキはお姉ちゃんに食べられた。

However, it is a statement about your cake (私のケーキ) the way #2 is a statement about yourself (私). It sounds like you are contrasting your cake with something else.


In any case, you are the "sufferer."

  • Amazing, these examples and points of view were of great help. Much appreciated. By the way what about these sentences: 「私はお姉ちゃんに食べられた」 in contrast with 「私はお姉ちゃんに私を食べられた」. Is this just redundant ? If we were to ask 「何を食べたんですか」I think the answers will be respectively: 「私」and maybe 「私の私」? Maybe the question here is if there is any limitations or rules when using a direct object in a passive sentence. Sep 2, 2022 at 4:33
  • Because it seems that, most of the cases at least, when using the direct object in a passive sentence it is implied that this direct object belongs to the sufferer. But I guess it depends on the context and common sense just as you explained with the お母さんのケーキ example. Sep 2, 2022 at 4:54
  • 1
    @JesúsJurado - If you say just 食べられた, people assume someone ate something you didn’t want to be eaten. You don’t need to add an explicit topic unless you want to single it out in contrast with someone or something else. As for what was eaten, unless you are a ghost, no one thinks it’s you. It must be something you didn’t want to be eaten. Then, it’s totally natural for people to assume some kind of association between you and that thing. If it’s not ownership, then it must be some kind of psychological attachment or something. It’s all common sense. There is no syntactical restriction.
    – aguijonazo
    Sep 2, 2022 at 6:13

1 is a cannibalism, as you say.

2 is the so-called 迷惑の受け身 (see this for example). In English, it is usually rendered as I had my cake eaten by my sister.

Practically 3 means the same, but due to its meaning (and because it is clearly a 迷惑の受け身 here), it is obvious that it is MY cake, which makes 私の sound redundant. What is more natural about 3 than 2 is that it has the subject omitted. So all in all お姉ちゃんにケーキを食べられた is the most natural.

As for 4, the subject is 私のケーキ and the sentence literally corresponds to My cake was eaten by my sister. It is fine, but perhaps less natural because inanimate subjects are less frequent in Japanese (I believe). Also, it does not have the connotation of being harmed (or at least less than 2 and 3).

  • Thank you for your answer and aclarations. I also get to know that 迷惑の受け身 is the official name for that type of passive. Sep 2, 2022 at 4:40

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