This lesson is actually our second lesson concerning ～られる and ～れる but sadly not the last. They not only make the potential, but they also make the passive voice. The Japanese passive is used in ways the English passive is not. This is aside from the obvious fact that the times when English speakers and Japanese speakers won't be the same across the board even with the usages they share in common.
～られる and ～れる attach to the 未然形 and may be used for the following things. ～られる is used with 一段 verbs and 来る and ～れる is used with 五段 verbs and する.
As you can see, 来る is intransitive but is shown here. You will learn in the next lesson on the passive how the Japanese passive endings can be used with intransitive verbs. You'll also learn in a future lessons how to create spontaneity and light honorific phrases.
1. For する, the older passive form is せられる (せ-未然形 + ～られる). Some verbs like 課す (to tax; levy) are still sometimes used with the old form せられる.
2. The voiced forms of する, ずる and じる, utilize ～られる with their ぜ・じ-未然形 and じ-未然形 respectively. For example, 感じられる・感ぜられる.Using ずる is old-fashioned and restricted to 書き言葉.
More Conjugation Examples
|五段||To take||取る → 取られる||一段||To eat||食べる → 食べられる|
|一段||To see||見る → 見られる||五段||To swim||泳ぐ → 泳がれる|
|カ変||To come||来る → 来られる||五段||To buy||買う → 買われる|
|サ変||To do||する → される||五段||To change (int.)||変わる → 変わられる|
|五段||To carry||運ぶ → 運ばれる||一段||To slip off||脱げる → 脱げられる|
|五段||To steal||盗む → 盗まれる||五段||To indulge||貪る → 貪られる|
|五段||To fasten||繋ぐ → 繋がれる||五段||To wait||待つ → 待たれる|
Caution Note: 五段 verbs ending in る―remember that all verbs in this category etymologically just end in -u―appear to end in ～られる. However, as their 未然形 is ら-, this is not the case.
Usage Note: 変わられる would only be correct Japanese if used in honorifics or compound verbs like 移り変わる.
Basic passive sentences are like Ex. 2, deriving from a non-passive sentence like Ex. 1. However, just as how English speakers can say "the tournament will be held in Paris", there doesn't even have to necessarily be a subject with overt emotion. First, though, consider this basic example yet comical example.
The dog ate the whale.
The dog was eaten by the whale.
Although odd, the sentences show the differences well. In a passive sentence there is an action receiver and an action performer. The action received is always there: it's the passive verb. What may or may not be there is the receiver and or the performer. The performer (agent) is marked by に--"by". The subject is the action receiver. In the past tense the subject is the "doer". The (direct) passive voice has the whale be the "doer" and the dog the one being eaten.
Curriculum Note: For instances of the agent being marked by から in the passive, click link.
Lastly, によって shows what an action was done under. It's especially used for showing when something is created, discovered, or named by someone. If there is a direct object in the sentence, you will see を too.
The ant was eaten by my brother.
The necklace was stolen by a thief.
This book was read by me.
The ball was passed and she received it.
The kid was scratched, and he cried.
Even his parents have turned their backs on him.
Because of this, the development is being hurried.
I got cheated by my girlfriend.
To have one's figure seen by others.
The two were left all alone.
Living in America is in a blessed environment.
Floods of emotions were condensed into a single phrase.
This tower was built two hundred years ago.
The left behind lonely student got lost.
I got my wallet pocket picked by a pickpocket.
I got scolded by my boss.
It is a cursed island.
Japanese cars are exported throughout the world.
That plan is something that was thought up of by those people.
This novel called "Kasha" was written by Miyabe.
The work was done by Mr. Kato.
That island was named by Columbus.
She is loved by everybody.
(It's) because I got stuck in traffic!
This song was sung in English.
I was asked the way.
It will be changed little by little.
His name will never be forgotten.
In the past Japanese homes were made with wood.
The broadband router was installed.
The vault was secured with a key.
It is said that he built the castle from gold.
I was halted when I was walking through the town.
He is crying because he was scolded by his teacher.
I was praised by my teacher.
What fines are included?
Don't be discouraged even if you're bombarded by slurs!
Even now this custom is still carried out.
What is this used for?
The dog is chained up.
The G8 Summit in Toyako (Hokkaido) started out with protests.
His theory is based on haphazard inquiry.
To grin from looking at a smiley face.
To be employed as a retainer by a daimyo.
She's certainly a woman deeply loved by men, isn't she?
WARNING Note: 焦がれる (To yearn for) is not in the passive form. Its passive would be 焦がれられる. The verb 焦がれる can also be used as a supplementary verb in expressions such as 思い焦がれる (to pine for) and 恋（い）焦がれる (to be deeply in love with). So, be careful with these phrases as well.
とされる shows that an idea is held by people in general. As we have not learned about the passive form, and because this is also a derivative of the "とする" pattern we learned above, you are not responsible for remembering "される" at this point. Nevertheless, below is an example.
It is believed that success is generally difficult.
Word Note: There are some words that are not verbal expressions but are passive in nature. One such phrase is と思しい, which is equivalent to と思われる.
Grammar Note: The copula is not used with the passive voice.
Contraction Note: For passive meanings in the negative, you could see ～らんない.
The potential and passive verbs go hand in hand. The difference lies in context and particle usage. Even earlier forms of these endings had the same functions. However, the use of ～れる for the potential has rapidly fallen in recent times, though it is still seen in many set phrases and old-fashioned speech.
The Ooi River that one just can't cross
51b. 見捨てておけるだろうか。(More Modern)
Can you leave and forsake it?
The oni is scared and can't move.
Dialect Note: In dialects such as 北九州弁, the potential is made by adding ～きる to the 連用形. This means "having the ability to swim". ～られる・れる are used for "one has the ability to swim out of will". If you said 泳がれない, you wouldn't be saying that you can't literally swim; you just can't get yourself to.