596 - ~られる ([official passive])

Welcome back to ~られる Marathon.

So far we've managed to get through:

- [NDL #379] - JLPT N4: ~られる (possibility)
- [NDL #380] - JLPT N3: ~られる (-able)
- [NDL #588] - JLPT N4: ~られる ([passive])
- [NDL #589] - JLPT N4: ~られる ([passive for possessions])
- [NDL #590] - JLPT N3: ~られる ([naturally] thought, felt, etc.)
- [NDL #595] - JLPT N4: ~られる ([negatively affected by])

And in this lesson, we're looking at what I think is perhaps the easiest usage of ~られる to understand:


JLPT N4: ~られる ([official passive])

I'm calling this the "official passive," but that's actually just a term that I made up.

Specifically, what we're looking at is how ~られる (the passive form) can be used for announcements, events, and so on.

Often, there is no clear agent performing the action in the sentence. In fact, the entity performing these actions will never be an individual person:


2020年のオリンピックは東京で行われます
にせんにじゅう ねん の オリンピック は とうきょう で おこなわれます。
The 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo.
Literally: “2020 + year + の + Olympics + は + Tokyo + で + will be carried out / will be held.”

You'll have noticed that the English is in the passive form as well. Since we cannot easily say who will hold the Olympics, we just put the verb into passive form, saying that the Olympics "will be held."

Unlike the usage of the passive form that we've seen in previous lessons, the speaker is not expressing any negative feelings about the action that is being performed. Instead, the speaker is simply stating a fact.

Accordingly, I have one grammar book that labels this 非情の受け身 (ひじょうのうけみ), "the unfeeling passive." The word 非情 can also mean "heartless" or "callous," so maybe it would be more fun to call this "heartless passive" instead of "official passive."


I'm thinking (well, hoping) that none of this sounds too complicated as of yet.

So maybe you're prepared to take on the following three examples:


もうすぐ新型のiPhoneが売り出されます
もうすぐ しんがた の アイフォン が うりだされます。
The new iPhone will be released soon.
Literally: “soon + new model + の + iPhone + が + will be put on the market / will be put out for sale.”

スペイン語は多くの国で使われています
スペインご は おおく の くに で つかわれています。
Spanish is used in many countries.
Literally: “Spanish (language) + は + many + の + country + で + is being used.”

タイは微笑みの国とも呼ばれています
タイ は ほほえみ の くに と も よばれています。
Thailand is also referred to as “The Land of Smiles.”
Literally: “Thailand + は + smile + の + country + と + も + is being called.”


Last of all, note that it is possible to specify an agent that is performing the action in an "official/heartless passive" sentence.

When we do want to specify an agent, we will mark the agent performing the action with the term によって, which in this case means something like "by:"


気象庁によって大雨警報が発表された
きしょうちょう によって おおあめ けいほう が はっぴょう された。
A weather alert for heavy rain has been announced by the (Japanese) Meteorological Agency.
Literally: “(Japanese) Meteorological Agency / JMA + によって (=by) + heavy rain + alarm / warning + が + announcement + was done.”


That's it. Another lesson for the books.

I can understand that you might be getting really sick of ~られる at this point, but hang in there. We've only got one more lesson on ~られる to get through.

And then we're going to tackle the great conjugation monster of Japanese: ~させられる.




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