Code and Stuff

Causative and Passive form in Japanese

by Don on September 07, 2020 underjapanese

In the never ending adventure that is my quest to learn a new language, I’ve run into a countless amount of speedbumps and roadblocks. Typically I manage to get past them eventually, but one I find myself constantly stumbling on are the causative and passive forms of verbs. Recently, I started taking lessons with an actual teacher, and I asked her to help me out with them, to better wrap my mind around how and when to use them. So this blog entry is really just to document that information while it’s still fresh in my head and try to reinforce it.

Passive Form

The passive form is used when something happens to the subject of the sentence. The way this form is created is as follows:

Verb Type Conjugation Rule
-る る becomes られる
-う ない form, minus ない, add れる
する される
くる こられる

For example:

食べる -> 食べられる
寝る -> 寝られる
話す -> 話される
飲む -> 飲まれる

The verb we used in some of our examples as 無くす - “to lose”.

無くす -> 無くされる

All verbs in this form become -る verbs, so they follow the same conjugation rules.


The first two are the present and past casual forms, the second two are the polite forms of the present and past forms.

My pen was lost. / I have lost my pen.

Tanaka-san lost my pen.

Something we covered is that the person who has caused the action takes the に particle, which in this instance is Tanaka-san.

Some further verbs we used were:

捨てる - throw away, discard
捨てられる - thrown away, discarded

見る - see
見られる - was seen (by someone)

笑う - to laugh
笑われる - laugh (at someone)

怒る - to get angry
怒られる - mad at

バカにする - to make fun of someone
バカにされる - made fun of

笑う - to laugh
笑われる - laughed [at]

雨が降る - to rain
雨に降られる - to be rained on

Some further example sentences:

I was made fun of by [a] kid.

I was rained on.

I was bitten by a mosquito.

My foot was stepped on.

My wallet was stolen.

Causative Form

The causative form, on the other hand, involves making someone do something. The teacher described it as a power relationship - you have the ability to make someone do something. The causative form conjugates similarly to the passive form (which has always been part of my confusion).

Verb Type Conjugation Rule
-る る becomes させる
-う ない form, minus ない, add せる
する させる
くる こさせる

So, passive is られる/れる, causative is させる/せる. Some example verbs:

And some of the verbs we used in the lesson:

働く - to work
働かせる - made to work

飲む - to drink
飲ませる - made to drink

習う - to learn
習わせる - made to learn

持つ - to hold
持たせる - make someone hold something

諦める - to give up
諦めさせる - made to give up

練習する - to practice
練習させる - made to practice

拾う - to pick up
拾わせる - made to pick up

A brief note, to indicate the difference between using ~てもらいます and the causative form.

The junior [student, colleague, etc] drove the car [as a favor]

The junior was made to drive the car

The first form indicates something was done as a favor, while the second form indicates they were made to do it. Another good example sentence:

The mother made the child practice piano.

For more information on these forms, and the causative-passive form, there’s a great article on Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese.

I definitely still have work to do committing these to memory, though.

© 2023 Don Walizer Jr