Joining the passive with the potential form.

涼宮

Senior Member
Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
Hi there!

I've never come across this possibility and I wonder if it is grammatically correct even though it is theoretically possible. To render can be -ed is usually done with either the infinitive ことができる o a normal passive voice depending on context, but I wonder if there could be a case where joining passive and potential or passive +ことができる is possible. I found what seems to be an example, the title .

食べられる = can eat/be eaten
食べられられる= can be eaten (possible?Actually used?)
食べられることができる= can be eaten (possible?)

読める/読まれる can read/be read
読まれられる/読められる= can be read (possible?)
読まれることができる= can be read (Possible?)


Thanks in advance!
 
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  • nagoyano

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    The ending --れる or --られる can be interpreted in different ways.
    食べられる is sometimes an honorific expression of "eating", but also the passive of eating, i.e. "eaten", "bitten" or even "raped".
    The ambiguity of this ending comes from the history of Japanese language.
    My advice is to pay attention to the context.
    When do we need to use honorific expressions?
    Otherwise, ---れる and ---られる are basically "passive".
    Does this make sense?
     

    涼宮

    Senior Member
    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Nagoyanoさん、I already knew the meaning of られる, but that's not my question, it isn't about distinguishing passive from potential but about combining the two meanings like in English can be -ed :D. Like I conjugated, 読まれる is passive, 読める is potential, so, I wondered if it was actually used and grammatically correct to combine passive with potential like 読まれられる or 読められる to mean can be read and not just ''be read'' or ''can read''. Like the link I provided, the title doesn't say 変えられる which would be a simple passive or potential, it rather says 変えられられる which supposedly means ''can be changed''.
     
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    Tonky

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    You can combine passive and potential by using ~得る(うる) for potential, such as ~されうる and ~れ/られうる.
    予想する+られる+できる→予想されうる
    考える+られる+できる→考えられうる
    読む+られる+できる→読まれうる
    変える+られる+できる→変えられうる​
    However, these are not very commonly used, and some verbs may not fit well. You may want to be extra cautious when you try to use this form and I hope you do not try to over-use it.

    *edit*
    For example, 食べられうる is pretty awkward and we generally prefer saying just 食べられる, but depends on context. It can be only used(使われうる) when you do not normally find it edible or you do not normally want/expect to eat it.
    Also, please note that this expression is formal and not used for a casual every-day conversation.
     
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    涼宮

    Senior Member
    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Thank you! Silly me, I had totally forgotten about うる. But then, does that mean the link is wrong and also that られることができる is also grammatically wrong?
     
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    Tonky

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    does that mean the link is wrong and also that られることができる is also grammatically wrong?
    Well, I'd say both the link and られることができる are wrong as natural Japanese.
    It does not sound natural to me at all and I would never use them, BUT, some people may have different opinions, as you COULD say that they are grammatically not-wrong IF you accept their existence.
    (日本語で書くと遠まわしになりますが、「そういう用法が存在すると認められる場合には、文法的には間違いではないということができなくもない」ということです。私は、自然な日本語でのこの用法の使用例をネット検索以外の場で実際にまだ見たことがありませんので、私個人としては少なくとも慣例的に間違いだと判断します。)

    I personally accept ら抜き(食べれる instead of 食べられる) in colloquial conversations and internet talks and find them natural enough, though unacceptable in official documents and articles. ら抜き is grammatically wrong, but it is not-wrong by widely accepted practice. I do NOT find られられる and られることができる practiced currently, but perhaps there might be certain communities somewhere that accept them.
     

    Tonky

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Second note, the below is not well thought-out yet, but just some idea hitting me, trying to find the reason why it sounds awkward and unnatural.

    Japanese "potential" as a grammatical term talks about "ability", "being able to", and not "possibility" nor "probability".
    As we use passive by the human point of view in Japanese, 食べられる in passive is about a human being eaten by some other creatures, or indirect passive of feeling troubled by someone eating something belongs to the speaker or his/her group.

    Semantically, できる and れる/られる does not occur with passive れる/られる, as you cannot judge the ability of others as your own, and feeling troubled is not about ability.

    "It can happen" in Japanese is 起こり得る, but NOT 起こることができる. れる/られる form is null.
    "I can be eaten by this monster" would be 私がこの怪獣に食べられうる、食べられる可能性がある and would NOT be 食べられることが可能である as in "I am able to be eaten by this monster".
     
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    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Japanese "potential" as a grammatical term talks about "ability", "being able to", and not "possibility" nor "probability". Semantically, できる and れる/られる does not occur with passive れる/られる, as you cannot judge the ability of others as your own, and feeling troubled is not about ability.
    Interesting.
    So, how would you translate a sentence like this in Japanese: "Twenty stadiums can be seen on the journey from Plymouth to Aberdeen" (which is the passive of "you can see twenty stadiums on the journey from Plymouth to Aberdeen")? Do we have to translate it in the active form or is it possible to combine potential and passive form in Japanese?
    (Source: the Guardian)
    The greatest number of league grounds that can be seen on a single train trip in Great Britain
     
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    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    プリマスからアバディーンまで電車で行く間に、20箇所のサッカー競技場が見られる。
    or ……見える。

    The first emphasizes that you have a chance to do so while the second focuses on the sponteneity of how the percepction (of seeing 20 studiums) unfolds in the travel. In other words 見える requires less action from the perceiver but the differnce is notmalways obvious. Here is another Japanese sensory verb that derives intransitive verbs: 聞く -> 聞こえる

    Even in English "can be seen" denotes a sponteneious perception. The "can" there has little to do with one's visual ability.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you, Flaminius.
    Also in Italian we don't use "essere capace di" plus the pasive form.
    It means that "can" and "potere" include more meanings than the Japanese potential form.
    見られる is the simple passive form of 見る, right?
     

    karlalou

    Banned
    母国語:日本語
    見られる is the simple passive form of 見る, right?
    I think so.

    In the context like a travel guide book, 見られる is usually used such as 車窓から多くの競技場が見られる. This sounds like a piece of dry general information, and for this context 見える feels very much forced.
    見える would be good for a travel or story writing: 車窓から多くの競技場が見える. Here a slight bit of human feeling is added because the subject is someone, human being (verbs of liking or wanting or ability take が as object marker). (In the case of 競技場が見られる, the subject is 競技場が, and the verb is passive voice, 'be seen'.)

    I agree that 見られる is grammatically passive voice, but when I hear the expression 見られる I tend to vaguely feel potential, as well.

    ~られられる is not logically wrong, but just it's like child's way of saying things. Instead we say ~されることができる or ~され得(え・う)る, but these sound a bit too rigid.

    In Japanese, in a science magazine, they would say この地域では珍しい鳥が見られる or この地域では珍しい見ることができる but not likely この地域では珍しい鳥が見られ得る, and no way この地域では珍しい鳥が見られることができる. Here the problem of 鳥が見られることができる is not if it's rigid but, I think, it just sounds like missing the point.
     
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    karlalou

    Banned
    母国語:日本語
    We also when talking about potential of something beneficial to us, use more often してもらう than される. So, for example, we say 読んでもらえる、手料理を食べてもらえる or 読んでもらえるかもしれない、手料理を食べてもらえるかもしれない、珍しい鳥が見られるかもしれない.

    I wasn't sure yesterday, but 見られる is not only passive form but also, not potential, not really ability either at least in the case of 競技場が見られる or 珍しい鳥が見られる, but 'can' or certitude or sureness to happen.

    かもしれない or ~し得る or ~する可能性がある is the expression to say potential or possibility or probability.

    In the case of 競技場 (they stay, don't move around), it depends on you if you can see all 20 stadiums or not, so in Japanese it's not logical to say (到着までに車窓から)20か所の競技場が見られるかもしれない as general information. I think 20か所の競技場が見られる is the reasonable translation. Though if it's a personal matter, then no problem to say 20か所の競技場全部を見られるかもしれない.

    I've said 競技場が見られる is passive, and 競技場が is the subject of 見られる, but it also can be said that 競技場が is the object of 見られる and 見られる means 'can see'. What I was vaguely feeling was, maybe, actually right. Maybe we can say that 競技場が見られる means not only 'be seen' but 'can be seen' by itself.
     
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    jamesh625

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Perhaps another important point to make is the absence of subjects (主語)in some phrases. Since the subject is not stated it can be "pragmatically" interpreted as referring to anyone and hence to be equivalent in English to a passive phrase. It's perhaps similar to "one can ..." or a pronominal verb in Romance languages.

    プリマスからアバディーンまで電車で行く間に、20箇所のサッカー競技場が見られる。

    プリマスからアバディーンまで電車で行く間に、20箇所のサッカー競技場が見える。
    I think it's important to note that the lack of subject here means that this phrase can be translated as a passive-potential ("can + passive") phrase.

    Take another example, seeing as the above was translated anyway.

    ここで、何でも買えるよ!
    "You can buy anything here!" or even "One can buy anything here!" or perhaps even "Anything can be bought here!".

    (Very interesting discussion guys & girls, I had never thought about this one before!)
     

    karlalou

    Banned
    母国語:日本語
    Indeed, the ambiguity caused by the lack of subject is allowing us to interpret it either way; passive or, mm..I say 'can', and it's possible to think both way at the same time.

    Maybe specialists don't agree with me, but I do feel both at the same time when I hear something like この辺りでは多くの競技場が見られる. Actually, I feel something unclear that I can't decide on what I am really getting without analyzing closely like this though I understand what it means ..maybe vaguely. Well, at least I am surely taking the information that I'll see them if I go there, and I guess that's pretty much what it's saying.

    Actually, it's true that sometimes an English translation is much easier to understand than the Japanese original. lol

    By the way.., 買える can't be passive.. 買われる is the one. :) mm.. so, it's not a cohesive phenomenon..
     

    jamesh625

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    By the way.., 買える can't be passive.. 買われる is the one. :) mm.. so, it's not a cohesive phenomenon..
    Yeah, I know that it's in the potential, but in terms of an admittedly indirect translation it could perhaps be translated into the passive. Perhaps this sentence was a bad example...
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I agree that 見られる is grammatically passive voice, but when I hear the expression 見られる I tend to vaguely feel potential, as well.
    In Japanese, in a science magazine, they would say この地域では珍しい鳥が見られる or この地域では珍しい見ることができる
    I didn't know that. Every basic grammar book says that 見られる is the passive (where が is the subject) and 見える is the potential form.
    Now I know it! So 見える = be able to see something while 見られる = something is seen = one can see something.
    ~られられる is not logically wrong, but just it's like child's way of saying things. . Instead we say ~されることができる or ~され得(え・う)る, but these sound a bit too rigid.
    but not likely この地域では珍しい鳥が見られ得る, and no way この地域では珍しい鳥が見られることができる. Here the problem of 鳥が見られることができる is not if it's rigid but, I think, it just sounds like missing the point.
    What are these recursive forms? What do they mean?
    It's perhaps similar to "one can ..." or a pronominal verb in Romance languages.
    I'm not sure about it.
    "Yesterday a thief was seen". "Ieri è stato visto un ladro". "Hier on a vu un voleur". The thief was seen, the fact happened.
    "Yesterday a thief could be seen/you could see a thief". "Ieri si poteva vedere un ladro". "Hier on pouvait voir un voleur". Yesterday it was possible for us, for someone, to see a thief, but we don't know if the thief was seen.
    Now, in Japanese: 昨日泥棒が見られた?
    What does it mean? The thief was seen or he could be seen?
    In English and in Romance languages there is no ambiguity between the impersonal passive and the impersonal potential.
     

    jamesh625

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Since the subject is not stated it can be "pragmatically" interpreted as referring to anyone and hence to be equivalent in English to a passive phrase. It's perhaps similar to "one can ..." or a pronominal verb in Romance languages.
    I'm not sure about it.
    "Yesterday a thief was seen". "Ieri è stato visto un ladro". "Hier on a vu un voleur". The thief was seen, the fact happened.
    "Yesterday a thief could be seen/you could see a thief". "Ieri si poteva vedere un ladro". "Hier on pouvait voir un voleur". Yesterday it was possible for us, for someone, to see a thief, but we don't know if the thief was seen.
    Now, in Japanese: 昨日泥棒が見られた?
    What does it mean? The thief was seen or he could be seen?
    In English and in Romance languages there is no ambiguity between the impersonal passive and the impersonal potential.
    When I said that, I wasn't referring to the idea of temporality (past vs. present) but rather that leaving out the subject in a Japanese sentence is similar to using "one" as the subject in English or "on" as the subject in French. They are ambiguous pronouns that don't refer to anyone in particular, and I think this effect can be achieved in a similar way by omitting the subject in Japanese.

    If I were to translate the example above "Twenty stadiums can be seen on the journey from Plymouth to Aberdeen" into French, it might be "Pendant le trajet entre Plymouth et Aberdeen, on peut voir vingt stades". Clearly, this is not in the passive voice.

    Perhaps a good example involving a pronominal verb would be
    "Cette leçon se comprend facilement."
    "This lesson is easily understood."
    この授業(は・が)簡単に分かる。 (← at first I thought は would be better but I couldn't say why, so I left が as an option.)
    How would this be translated into Italian, with a pronominal form or a passive one or with "on(e)"?

    (I feel like I got a bit off-topic, I apologise.)

    Now, in Japanese: 昨日泥棒が見られた?
    What does it mean? The thief was seen or he could be seen?
    In English and in Romance languages there is no ambiguity between the impersonal passive and the impersonal potential.
    I guess it is ambiguous, although for me 見られる is almost always the passive and not the potential...
     

    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I think it's important to note that the lack of subject here means that this phrase can be translated as a passive-potential ("can + passive") phrase.
    The writer wants to set the twenty stadiums as the subject. If choosing see/見る,
    プリマスからアバディーンまで電車で行く間に、20箇所のサッカー競技場が見る。
    Do the stadiums have their eyes and look at you? So, we just helplessly have to choose 見られる or 見える。 How are they? 見える。

    Now, in Japanese: 昨日泥棒が見られた?
    We don't say so, but is grammatically correct. Possible in the right context? It'd be very rare but not impossible lol.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    How would this be translated into Italian, with a pronominal form or a passive one or with "on(e)"?
    Both are possible, but when there is an impersonal passive, i.e without an expressed agent, we prefer si passivante.
    "La lezione si capisce facilmente" (this lesson is easily understood). But, also in this case we can say "la lezione si può capire facilmente" (this lesson can be easily understood).
    We can also say "la lezione è facile da capire" (la leçon est facile à comprendre), but this is a different structure.
    What I'm saying, is that if 見られる can mean both "it is seen" and "one can see", in Japanese it is ambiguous while in English and Romance languages we don't have it, because we have the structure "passive + can" or "impersonal construction + can".
    We don't say so, but is grammatically correct.
    How do you say that? We're curious! :D
     
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    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    If you say you saw the theif, 泥棒を見た is the best. You saw him. 泥棒がいた is another alternative.

    見える is a polite form of come/visit. If you say 泥棒がみえた, you say like "The theif (thankfully) has come/visited me." But you know, it has just turned into a humorous result. We don't usually say such lol!

    If you could see him, I mean that you have a good eyesight and saw him running or stealing something, you can say 泥棒が見えた. (I could see the theif.)
    Note that the difference in the subjects: Who has thankfully come? The theif. Who could see the theif? You (I).
     
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    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    That みえた is equal to お見えになった。 先生がお見えになった=先生が見えた. Check お見えになった, if you're curious. Yes it has the same pronunciation.

    Well, how strange, when we say I could see the theif, we use が. When you use 見える・聞こえる・話せる・わかる, etc, ability-involved verbs, use が. I think Flam knows much better.

    But イタリア語を話せる is okay, too. Regarding イタリア語を話せる vs イタリア語が話せる, we have the definition..but I need to check it.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Regarding イタリア語を話せる vs イタリア語が話せる
    When the object is not animated there are no problems for me.
    But when it is animated, here it comes the question: 泥棒が見えた. I could see the thief or the thief could see me? Who saw whom? (Maybe telepathy is involved? We "Europeans" need to express almost everything :) ).
     
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    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    That theif is visible and in your view, so you could see him. 泥棒が見えた is your clear statement and experience. That is usually I could see the theif.

    Ah, I understand that you wondered if that could be the theif could see me. This may involve a theme and topic matter again. Just a moment..and が in this 泥棒が見えた isn't the subject marker. 見える usually takes が, as I said #23.

    And these threads might help
    He doesn't want to see v/s I don't want to see him
    I think he wants to eat fish
    The difference between wa (は) and ga (が)
    That が is very similar to が in ~が好きです。


    Sorry I forgot to say,
    if 見える is an intransitive verb, 泥棒(subject) が (subject marker) 見えた (I) is okay.

    Well, 見えた is not a verb to see. It's not see in I see it.
     
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    karlalou

    Banned
    母国語:日本語
    ~られられる
    ~されることができる or ~され得(え・う)る
    What are these recursive forms? What do they mean?
    They are all passive + potential as this thread was made for.

    The example OP linked says "変えられられることから悩む". This site is of psychiatrist, but.. I feel my brain almost suffocates by thinking about it.. XD I believe it makes sense just fine without the second られ.

    Every basic grammar book says that 見られる is the passive (where が is the subject) and 見える is the potential form.
    (……)for me 見られる is almost always the passive and not the potential...
    Is that so? I myself speaking without knowing very much of the grammar, but 見る and 見える are two different verbs.

    見られる is passive form of 見る as well as potential form of 見る.
    見える means 'can see' as it is and it doesn't have any passive or potential form. (Actually, looking at the dictionary, 見える also means 'be seen' without changing the form, in the form of 人に見える. 人に見える=人に見られる. Well.. we also say 私に見える. I guess it equals 私に見られる.. odd but I guess that is it, though we usually say that meaning 'I can see'.)

    Anyway, I wasn't sure the other day because I hear too often 見れる to mean 'can see'. However, I found an explanation that 見れる is considered wrong because of the conjugation rule. My memory also tells me that 花火が見られて良かったね (It was good that you could see the fireworks) sounds so correct and standard while 花火が見れて良かったね sounds so local and cozy.
     
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    karlalou

    Banned
    母国語:日本語
    Now, in Japanese: 昨日泥棒が見られた?
    What does it mean? The thief was seen or he could be seen?
    In English and in Romance languages there is no ambiguity between the impersonal passive and the impersonal potential.
    I think we use some different expressions like 昨日泥棒が出た or 現れた or 出没した. I think 泥棒 is not someone to be seen or can see to Japanese sense, but 'appear'.
     

    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Screen-Shot-2015-12-10-at-13_02_42.png

    泥棒_見える
    Case 1
    Case 1 focuses on how he is. He's visible and is in your view. He's appearing. And you're looking at him. 見える is an intransitive verb so that it takes が.
    S + subject marker が + int V. And note that this 1 doesn't include You, Nino, who sees him.

    Case 2
    This highlights your ability more. Who can see him? You. Also in this case, we use が. Weblio says in 2 希望・能力・好悪などの対象になるものを表す: it indicates a target of one's request, capability, and preference. Therefore, you use が. (が in the all threads I posted discuss this が.) In this (私には)泥棒が見える, this が is not a subject marker.

    If the context says something that fits with case 1 your statement would be 1. You're a policeman following the thief and your workmate, who forgot bringing his glasses with him, asks you if you can see the thief instead of him: you say 泥棒が見えます!
    In both cases of 1 and 2 we say 泥棒が見える。

    For example, 星が見える, etc, is as well.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you.
    So, literally, 見える = to be visible. 泥棒が見える = the thief is visible (in general), (私には)泥棒が見える = the thief is visible to me = I can see the thief.
    Another question. This change, from transitive to intransitive (見る > to see, 見える > to be visible) happens only with some verbs or is it a structural change from the "dictionary" form to the "potential" form.
    For example, イタリア語話す = I speak Italian, イタリア語話せる = Italian is "speakable", 私はイタリア語が話せる = Italian is speakable to me, 私はイタリア語を話すことができる = the fact that I speak Italian is possible. Does it works, more or less, like this?

    EDIT: I found that it only happens with some verbs, like miru and kikoeru, that become intransitive in the synthetic potential form (somebody/something is visible, audible).

    Thank you all
     
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    frequency

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    So, literally, 見える = to be visible. 泥棒が見える = the thief is visible (in general), (私には)泥棒が見える = the thief is visible to me = I can see the thief.
    Good. 泥棒が見える can cover both.

    from transitive to intransitive (見る > to see, 見える > to be visible) happens only with some verbs or is it a structural change from the "dictionary" form to the "potential" form.
    Well, we have the intransitive verb 見える, standalone. Case 1 is this and is therefore should be XX (Subject) が見える.

    But Case 2 is 見る←→見える: see ←→can see. I mean 見える is 1) an int verb and 2) can see.

    (見る is a transitive verb, because it can 'get' an object. e.g.私を. 見える can't. You can't say 私を見える.)

    イタリア語話す = I speak Italian, イタリア語話せる = Italian is "speakable", 私はイタリア語が話せる = Italian is speakable to me, 私はイタリア語を話すことができる = the fact that I speak Italian is possible. Does it works, more or less, like this?
    Wonderful. But try thinking like this way:
    Start from 話せる. This 話せる can be categorised into the word of 希望・能力・好悪: one's request, capability, and preference, because the verb 話せる shows your ability/capability.

    (話すvs 話せる・・この「話せる」って何ですか?Does anybody know what the verb 話せる is?)

    Therefore 話せる takes が. (希望・能力・好悪などの対象になるものを表す: it indicates a target of one's request, capability, and preference.)

    Which language can you speak? Italian. So connect the two by using が: イタリア語が話せる.
    This is already an understandable clause though, if you want to add 私,
    For/to/regarding me-私(には・について)は
    私はイタリア語が話せる.

    私はイタリア語を話すことができる = the fact that I speak Italian is possible.
    No, it's just I can speak Italian. 私はイタリア語を話すことができる is just one of variations of 私はイタリア語を話せる.

    私はイタリア語を話せる is okay. When you have a language that you can speak and you want to say so, both are okay and no difference in meaning.
    We have the definition of 私はイタリア語が話せる vs 私はイタリア語を話せる, but I need scrutiny lol, so I think I will be able to talk about it to you later.;)
     
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