Intransitive vs Passive

第247課: Intransitive Verbs Translated in the Passive Voice

There are many times when an intransitive verb is technically translated with an English passive expression. For instance, 決まる, the first verb we’ll be looking at, can either be translated as “to be decided/settled.”  However, just because it’s translated as this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a transitive passive equivalent with a different nuance. In this lesson, a handful of these kinds of verbs will be looked at carefully so that you may get the sense of when to use which. 

決まる vs 決められる

The verbs 決まる and 決める create an intransitive-transitive verb pair meaning “to be decided/to decide.” However, 決められる (to be decided) also exists. This means that one must truly look at the meanings of both 決まる and 決める carefully to make tales of how 決まる and 決められる may differ.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that although they share basic meanings, there are plenty of instances that only one or the other may be used.

決まる indicates a matter that is fixated/settled upon as a natural conclusion. The agent of the action, even if one exists, is not emphasized at all. 決める is the opposite of this. The agent is emphasized and its presence is felt in any form that it takes.

1. 裁判さいばん有罪ゆうざいまった国会議員こっかいぎいん議員ぎいんめさせられます。
The Diet member whose guilty verdict was decided in court will be made to resign his seat.

2. どうにもはらまらない。
I can’t make up my mind.

Idiom Note: In Japanese, “to make up one’s mind” is 腹を決める. Essentially, the Japanese use the “gut” as the reference point for gut decisions. The reason why 決める is switched to 決まる in Ex. 2 is to emphasis the lack of control the speaker has in making up his own mind. This incapability goes well with the lack of volition that 決まる has in the outcome of things.

3. 毎晩まいばんまった時間じかん尿意にょういきます。
Every evening, I wake up at a fixed time to go pee.

4. あらかじ講師こうし交渉こうしょうして日時にちじめてください。
Negotiate with your lecturer beforehand and decide upon a date and time.

5. ピンクのスーツでめましょう。
Dress up nicely with a pink suit.

Meaning Note: 決める can be used to mean “to dress up (nicely).” 決まる may also be used to indicate that one’s attire/appearance is good looking.

6. スクイズをめ、3さんてん奪取だっしゅした。
(The player) successfully carried out a squeeze and took back three points.

One pattern that 決まる is only used in is に決まっている. This is a highly subjective statement used to indicate that whatever it follows is undoubtedly so without a shadow of a doubt. This attaches directly after nouns, adjectives, and verbs.

7. はなし矛盾むじゅんだらけで本人ほんにん犯人はんにんまっているでしょう。
(His) story is littered with contradictions; it’s without a doubt that he himself is the criminal.

8. 台風たいふうれば、電車でんしゃおくれるにまっている。
When a typhoon comes, it’s a guarantee that the trains will be late.

決める, when used in に決める, is very similar to にする. The use of 決める over する is used to emphasize the decision aspect.

9. 青汁あおじるむことにめました。
I have decided to drink aojiru.

Word Note: 青汁 is a Japanese drink made from green leafy vegetables. An American equivalent would be something like V8.

10a. マサチューセッツしゅう留学りゅうがくすることに{めた・した}。
I’ve decided to study abroad at Massachusetts.
10b. マサチューセッツしゅう留学りゅうがくすることをめた。
I’ve decided to study abroad at Massachusetts.

Grammar Note: Although it’s not wrong to have two に phrases in one sentence, whenever it can be helped, one of the に usually has to go. In 10a. the particle へ is used, but in 10b. the first に is kept and 決める is preceded by を. The nuance difference of using を instead of に indicates that the decider had at least more than one option and after some thought chose. The use of に does not imply a decision process from multiple options. Incidentally, the use of the particle を can emphasize satisfaction to the decision (See Ex. 11 below).

11. 大分おおいたのこることをめました。
I’ve decided to stay in Ōita.

When に決めている is after a noun, it shows what is always decided upon.

12. 家族かぞくあつまるときはドライブインとりめています。
When the family gathers, we make a habit of going to Drivein-Tori.

13. 一日いちにち小遣こづかいは昼食込ちゅうしょくこみで1000えんめています。
Daily allowance is set to 1000 yen including lunch.

The difference between using こと or よう before に決める is rather small. With こと, you demonstrate what you’ve decided to do. With よう, you demonstrate what you’re determined to try to do.

14. 一緒いっしょにプレイしない{こと・よう}にめている。
[We’ve settled/we’re determined] not to play together.

In the realm of sports, 決める can indicate a successful move. In the realm of martial arts, it can mean “to immobilize” with certain techniques. As for  決まる, its use in sports indicates that a match is settled.

15. かんぬきめているようにえるが、完全かんぜんまっていない。
It appears that (he) is immobilized from the overhook, but (the match) is not entirely settled.

As for 決められる, one thing that must be noted is that sometimes it is simply the potential form of 決める.

16. 一人ひとりめられずにいたのですが、やっとめられました。
I had been unable to decide on my own, but I’ve finally been able to decide.

決められる always implies an agent even if it isn’t explicitly expressed. In Ex. 17, the ‘indirect passive’ is used. This is because the speaker is upset that what was to become of his/her dental treatment was decided by the doctor without full consent. In the rest of the examples that follow,決められる is used as a normal passive verb with the agent either expressed or readily obvious.

17. 治療方針ちりょうほうしん勝手かってめられました。
My dental treatment plan was arbitrarily decided.

18. 西暦せいれき325さんびゃくにじゅうごねんには、第一だいいちニカイアにかいあ公会議こうかいぎおこなわれ、「春分しゅんぶん」が3さんがつ21にじゅういちにちめられた。
In the year 325 AD, the First Council of Nicaea was convened, and the Vernal Equinox was decided upon to be March 21st.

19. 参加国さんかこく投票とうひょうにより、グリニッジ天文台てんもんだいとお子午線しごせん経度けいどれいとすることがめられました。
By vote from participating countries, the prime meridian was decided upon to be the merdian that goes through the Greenwich Observatory.

20. 1982せんきゅうひゃくはちじゅうにねんに「海洋法かいようほうかんする国際連合条約こくさいれんごうじょうやく」がつくられ、領海りょうかい12じゅうに海里以内かいりいないとすることがめられました。
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was created in 1982, and the extent of national waters was set to be within 12 nautical miles.

定まる vs 定められる

定まる and 定める are more formal equivalents to 決まる and 決める. For instance, 定まる can also indicate that a decision has been settled. However, 定まる implies that a certain situation is maintained by said decision. When 定められる is used, as was the case for 決められる, the agent is either explicitly stated or obvious and there is volition behind the action. There is no volition implied with 定まる.

21. 運命うんめいさだまっているわけではない。
It is not the case that one’s destiny is fixed.

22. 民進党政権みんしんとうせいけん焦点しょうてんさだまった。
The focus of the Democratic Party of Japan has been set.

23. 桓武天皇かんむてんのうはなぜ京都きょうとみやこさだめたのでしょうか。
Why is that Emperor Kanmu set the capital to Kyoto?

24. 各州かくしゅうおよびなどの税務当局ぜいむとうきょく独自どくじ税制ぜいせいさだめている。
Each state and city tax authority sets its own system of taxation.

25. そのひとみは、まるで獲物えものねらいをさだめたとらだ。
Those eyes were like that of a tiger’s locked onto its prey.

In the following examples, 定まる would not be used instead. 定められる happens to be the verb of choice in technical circumstances. This is likely because the agent needs to be unambiguous.

26. 法律ほうりつさだめられた勤務時間きんむじかん上限じょうげんりたいのです。
I want to know the upper limit on working hours set by law.

27. 「食品表示基準しょくひんひょうじきじゅん」でさだめられた名称めいしょう記載きさいされている。
The names set by the “Food Product Labeling Standards” are listed. 

焦げる vs 焦がされる

焦げる is a verb meaning “to be burned” by some sort of fire or heat. Its transitive equivalent is 焦がす. The transitive version, however, can be used in non-literal expressions, widening its range of usage. 焦がされる gets used to mean “to get burned” by the fault of someone or something. The agent, then, is emphasized with it. With 焦げる, there is no ‘culprit’ involved.

28. 料理りょうりをしていて、うっかりなべやフライパンをしょうがしてしまったことはありませんか。
Have you ever unintentionally burned at pot or frying pan while cooking?

29. アイロンでワイシャツがげてしまった。
The white shirt got burnt by the iron.

30. ライターでかみがされてしまったのですが、かみげてしまったとき、どのようなケアをすればいいんでしょうか。
My hair got burnt by someone with a lighter, and so what sort of care should you do when your hair gets burned?

31. 旦那様のご経験に食材を火に入れすぎて焦がされてしまったことはございませんか。
In your experiences with your husband, have you ever had a situation where he heated the ingredients for too long and burned them?

Grammar Note: Ex. 31 is a perfect example demonstrating a bridging context for how one can see the interconnection between light honorifics and the passive. In this case, 焦がされる should be interpreted as the light honorific form of 焦がす, but interpreting as the passive does not really alter the meaning of the sentence.

32. 太陽たいようがされて火照ほてった。
I was flushed from the sun.

かかる vs かけられる

The verb かかる andかける as we know have many usages. The most basic meaning of the two is “to be hung” and “to hang” respectively. The former has no volition entailed in it. However, かける always does. Thus, when you useかけられる, the agent of the action is always implied if it isn’t explicitly stated.

Orthography Note: As the sentences below demonstrate, かかる and かける have various spellings depending on nuance.

33. 10じゅう万円まんえん賞金しょうきんかっている。
There is a prize for 100,000 yen.

34. テーブルのうえかべけられたかがみが、彼女かのじょの目をいた。
The mirror hung up on the wall above the table caught her eye.

35. 他人たにんからかけられたのろいをかえすにはどうすればいいでしょうか。
What should I do to repel a spell cast on me by someone?

36. キリストは、何故なぜ十字架じゅうじかけられたのでしょうか。
Why was it that Christ was put on the cross?

37. そら見事みごとにじかっている。
There is a magnificent rainbow suspended in the sky.

38. ホテルには夜景やけいいたかいかっている。
There is a picture of the nightscape hung up in the hotel.

伝わる vs 伝えられる

伝わる is an intransitive verb meaning “to be handed down/transmitted/circulated” and its transitive counterpart is 伝える, which is typically translated as “to convey/transmit/communicate/propagate.” 伝わる does not imply personal volition, and so whenever there is an agent with volition involved, when used in a passive sense, 伝えられる becomes your choice.

39. いたいことがつたわらない。
I can’t get across what I want to say.

40. 代々伝だいだいつたわるレシピをご紹介しょうかいします。
I will introduce a recipe passed down from generation to generation in my family.

41. うえからのおとかべつたわってこえてきます。 
Noise from above can be heard through the walls.

42. ダイヤモンドはねつをよくつたえるとわれます。
It’s say that diamonds conduct heat well.

43. 仏教ぶっきょう朝鮮人ちょうせんじんによって日本にほんつたえられた。
Buddhism was propagated to Japan by Koreans.

44. 中国大陸ちゅうごくたいりく朝鮮半島ちょうせんはんとうから移住いじゅうした人々ひとびとによって、日本列島にほんれっとう稲作いなさくつたえられました。
Rice cultivation was propagated to the Japanese Archipelago by people who had migrated there from Mainland China and the Korean Peninsula.

集まる vs 集められる

To “gather/assemble” in the intransitive sense is 集まる. In the transitive sense, it’s 集める. Because the intransitive sense can also be translated in English as “to be gathered,” some may confuse it with the passive of the transitive form, 集められる. However, as continues to be the case for all the other examples in this lesson,集められる has an agent, and the action involved is done by the volition of said agent. 集まる has no volition entailed.

45. 食卓しょくたくにはいつも、世界中せかいじゅうから様々さまざま食材しょくざいあつまっています。
There are always various ingredients from all over the world gathered on the dinner table.

46. 安倍内閣あべないかく支持しじあつまっている状況じょうきょうだ。
The circumstance is that support is gathering for Abe’s cabinet.

47. あのひとまわりにはつねひとあつまっている。
There are always people gathered around that person.

48. 顧客こきゃくからの苦情くじょうがたくさんあつめられている。
Tons of complaints are being gathered from customers.

49. 献血けんけつによってあつめられた血液けつえきはどのようなルートで患者かんじゃ輸血ゆけつされるんですか。
Through what sort of routes do the blood that is gathered by donations transfused into patients?

収まる vs 収められる

The verb 収まる can be translated as “to settle into/be settled into/installed/in one’s place.” Essentially, it refers to things being in place and settled. That’s why it can even refer to a weapon being sheathed. When used to refer to payment having been paid, it’s spelled as 納まる. Conversely, 収める・納める handles the transitive twist of these meanings. As is the case with all the other verbs,収まる・納まる has no volition. Therefore, 収められる・納められる is the correct passive expression when there is a willful agent involved.

50. 満腹まんぷくなのにおさまっていく。
Even despite being full, it smoothly settles in one’s stomach.

51. 2年以内ねんいない99きゅうじゅうきゅうてん2パーセントおさめるべき税額ぜいがく国庫こっこおさめまっているということになります。
99.2% of the taxes that you ought to pay within two years is paid to the national treasury.

52. かたなさやおさめる。
To sheathe a sword.

53. 中世の重要な資料や遺産などが収められている。
Important medieval materials and heritage items are dedicated (here). 

54. かべあななか仏像ぶつぞうおさめられています。
Buddha statues are installed in the holes of the walls.

混ざる・混じる vs 混ぜられる

まざる and まじる both mean “to be blended/mixed.” まざる is closer to “to be blended” whereasまじる is closer to “to be mixed.” The use of the character 混 is to emphasize things being mixed but technically separate whereas the character 交 is used to emphasize that things are blended together as one. Both まざる and まじる have zero volition. It isまぜられる that you need to use for when things are mixed together with an active agent.

55. この生地きじにナイロンが{混・交}ざっている。
Nylon is blended into this fabric.

56. 辛味からみすくない野菜やさいカレーをぜればマイルドなあじわいになります。
If you mix in a vegetable curry, which has little spice, it becomes a mild flavor.

57. たんじっている。
Blood is mixed in the phlegm.

58. 大小だいしょう建物たてものり{混・交}じっている。
Buildings big and small are mixed together.

59. 給食室きゅうしょくしつ蛇口じゃぐちから水道水すいどうすいくろ異物いぶつが{混入こんにゅうして・じって・ざつじって・}いた。
A black foreign substance was mixed in the tap-water from the faucet in the lunch room.

Spelling Note: When used for saying that a foreign substance is mixed in with something, the spelling  雑ざるmay occasionally be used.

60. あぶらぜられたく。
To draw a picture with coloring materials mixed with oil.

Of course, 混ぜられる can also be the potential form of 混ぜる.

61. ジュースにもぜられるからいいですね。
It’s good because you can also mix it in juice.

育つ vs 育てられる

The verb 育つ means “to grow up.” Because it can also be translated as “to be raised/brought up,” some confuse it with 育てられる. However, there is no active agent with 育つ. To express an active agent in the passive sense, 育てられる, the passive form of the transitive form, needs to be used. Of course, there is also the fact that 育てられる may also be used as the potential form of育てる.

62. ぼくそだったまちすこしでもなに貢献こうけんしたいなとおもっています。
I’d like to donate something back, even if it’s just a little, to the town I grew up in.

63. わたし東京とうきょうまれて、大阪おおさかそだちました。
I was born in Tokyo and raised in Ōsaka.

64. 動物どうぶつそだてられたひとって本当ほんとうにいるの?
Is it really true that there are people who were raised by animals?

65. さる一族いちぞくそだてられました。
I was raised by a family of monkeys.