Okay so I’m going to talk about verbs more in this post because verbs are hard, and this topic will be mainly centered around passive and causative verbs, but these are hard for me in Japanese so I’m not going to be too detailed
First off, let’s have a brief overview of these types of verbs so we know what exactly we’re dealing with.
A passive verb is when you say something has happened. For example, the sentence, “The book has been published” is a passive sentence, and this is indicated by “has been.”
Causative is when you make someone do something. “My mother made me clean my room” is a causative sentence.
How do you use these in Japanese, though? Well, you have to take the verb you’re using and conjugate it to fix the context. Let’s start with する, a common verb.
される is the passive form of する. When making a passive sentence, you have to stick れ in between す and る.
The book has been published.
By saying される instead of する, you’re saying that the book is already out, and presumably ready to buy.
させる is the causative form of する. Don’t confuse this with される! I kind of think as causative verbs as kind of like potential verbs (“to be able to” form verbs. The potential form of する is できる.), instead of being able to do something, you’re forced to do it.
My mother made me do my homework.
When used like this, these forms are pretty easy to understand. But as you conjugate different verbs to make more specific or complex sentences, this gets a little tougher.
Types of Verbs
In Japanese, there are three types of verbs: godan, ichidan, and irregular. Godan verbs end in あ, い, う, え, or お and ichidan verbs end in -いる or える. But be careful! There are several godan verbs that appear to be ichidan when they aren’t. Irregular verbs are する and 来る (くる).
I don’t have a readily available list of godan and ichidan verbs at the moment, but you can easily find some with a quick Google search.
Now, specific passive and causative conjugate differently with different verb groups. For example, when conjugating a godan verb into the passive, you would use -られる and just -れる for ichidan verbs. When conjugating into the causative, you use -させる for godan verbs and -せる for ichidan.
Conjugating an Ichidan Verb:
- Passive (-られる)
食べる (たべる) = “to eat.” To conjugate this verb, you would write it out as 食べられる.
I have already eaten lunch.
- Causative (-させる)
We’re going to use 食べる again for continuity. To make this verb causative, you have to write it out as 食べさせる.
My mother made me eat the tomatoes.
Conjugating a Godan Verb:
- Passive (-れる)
The godan verb we’ll use is 書く (かく), “to write.” To conjugate this verb, you have to write it as 書かれる.
She has already written her report.
- Causative (-せる)
We’ll use 書く again. The causative of 書く is 書かせる.
Kei has a crush on Fumie so he made me write a love letter for her.
Conjugating Irregular Verbs:
Irregular verbs don’t really follow the grammar rules of other verbs, so you have to conjugate them differently. The irregular verbs in Japanese are する and 来る (くる). You can also just write kuru in hiragana as くる.
We’ll use both する and 来る for these examples.
Unlike the above examples, the passive form of する is される and the passive form of 来る is 来られる. This is pronounced こられる and NOT くられる.
I’ve already played this game.
Note that する generally means “to do,” so the above sentence could literally be “I’ve already done this game.”
来る’s meaning is a little bit different. Generally, 来る means “to come,” as in to arrive somewhere, but it can also be used as “to get,” as in to get a present, and many other variants on those.
My birthday is tomorrow, but my present from Fumie has already come.
The causative form of する is させる, and 来る is 来させる (こさせる).
I have been playing video games all day.
My sister is making me come to the library today.
Verbs are hard and I always struggle with them, so correct me if I screwed up. And if you have any presents, feel free to ask! I’ll try to help out best I can.