602 - ~られる ([honorific passive])

Our ~られる studies are approaching their end. *Relief*

We've seen:

- [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 #596] - JLPT N4: ~られる ([official passive])

Maybe you're thinking, "I can't review all of that! Leave me alone!"

If so, you should at least consider reviewing the conjugation patterns for potential (NDL #379) and passive (NDL #590) forms.

In this lesson, we'll be using the conjugation patterns for passive verbs with...


JLPT N4: ~られる ([honorific passive])

When you are describing the action performed by a "social superior" like a teacher, a boss, etc., you can put the verb describing his or her action into passive form in order to show respect.

An example:


高橋さんは主にどんな本を読まれますか。
たかはしさん は おもに どんな ほん を よまれますか。
What kind of books do you usually read, Mr. Takahashi?
Literally: “Takahashi-san + は + mainly / primarily + what kind of + book + を + are read + か.”

Instead of putting the verb 読む (よむ // to read) into ます-form, 読みます (よみます), the speaker puts it into passive form, 読まれます (よまれます), thus showing an added level of respect to the listener, Mr. Takahashi.

The "social superior" that is performing the action does not necessarily have to be the listener. The "social superior" can also be someone described in the third person:


ピエールさんは毎晩、ワインを飲まれるそうです。
ピエールさん は まいばん、 ワイン を のまれる そうです。
Pierre-san said that he drinks wine every night. // I heard that Pierre-san drinks wine every evening.
Literally: “Pierre-san + は + every night, + wine + を + is drunk + [hearsay marker] (=そうです).”


Just how polite is the "honorific passive"...?

It's more polite than using ます-form, but it is not as polite as using the 尊敬語 (そんけいご // honorific language) in which we write お~になる. We haven't had our N4 lesson on that form just yet, but we did discuss it in an older NDL. In fact, we have already had all of these lessons on different types of polite language:

- [NDL #126] - Keigo Japanese - Part I
- [NDL #127] - Keigo Japanese - Part II
- [NDL #128] - Keigo Japanese - Part III
- [NDL #129] - Keigo Japanese - Part IV
- [NDL #456] - JLPT N4: お~ください
- [NDL #463] - JLPT N4: お~・ご~
- [NDL #471] - JLPT N3: お~です

Looking at this long list of lessons, you might be feeling pretty overwhelmed by all of this stuff about polite Japanese. I was, too, back in the day.

It may comfort you to know that a lot of Japanese people are actually pretty terrible at using the correct forms of polite language. So it's not that big of a deal if you mess up as you're trying to jump back and forth between various levels of formality... at least, it's not that big of a deal until you get a high-profile job in Japan that requires you to talk to business clients and whatnot! (←my worst nightmare)


Just two more "honorific passive" sentences, and I'll leave you alone:


課長は楽しそうに仕事をされますね。
かちょう は たのしそう に しごと を されます ね。
You seem to enjoy your work. // The section chief seems to enjoy her work, doesn’t she?
Literally: “section chief / section manager + は + looks/seems fun + に + job / work + を + is done + ね.”


先生、今週末は何をされる予定ですか。
せんせい、 こんしゅうまつ は なに を される よてい ですか。
Sensei, what are your plans for this weekend?
Literally: “sensei, + this weekend + は + what + を + is done + schedule / plan + ですか.”
Note: If you have a Japanese teacher, try using this phrase. I can just about guarantee they'll be impressed by your well-mannered phrasing.


We're now finished with ~られる lessons... kind of.

Next up, we'll take on ~させられる, a conjugation pattern that can easily make your head spin if you're not careful.

No worries, though, I'll walk you through it. ^^




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