In studying the passive voice, I have learnt that we tend to use the particles 「は」・「が」and 「に」in sentences like:


But recently, I have noticed the use of 「を」in place of 「は」or 「が」in some sentences. In a recent diary entry I wrote in Japanese, my friend actually changed my 「が」 in favour of 「を」.

普段、Mさんのサーブは安定しているけど、love game を二つとられてしまった。

What I’d like to know is when to do this. Is it something to do with the fact that there is another subject in the sentence – Mさん? But I’ve seen more than one は in a sentences on many occasions.


  1. This is easier to understand if you think about the parties involved in each action. I find it helps to look at the plain, *active* voice construction for the action.
    The do-er (母) and the receiver (子供) of the action are both named in the statement. In this case, the receiver is also the object of the verb, so takes を in the active voice.
    love gameを二つとった。
    love gameを二つとられた。
    The verb takes an object, 「love game」, which will always take を in both active and passive voice, since it’s not the recipient of the action.
    Neither the do-er nor the receiver are explicitly named in the statement, so we must look to context. The do-er, while not named with は or が, is presumably Mさん.
    (Mさんが)love gameを二つとった。
    (Mさんに)love gameを二つとられた。
    The receiver isn’t mentioned either, so we must presume 私.
    (Mさんが)(私に)love gameを二つとった。
    (私が)(Mさんに)love gameを二つとられた。
    That’s the difference then: the object in the second example is neither the do-er nor the receiver of the action, so it always takes を.

  2. Thank you for such a lengthy explanation. I see that I was thinking about this in slightly the wrong way. That is, I thought the action was happening on ‘love game’, because it was being ‘taken’. But perhaps it is better to think of who this action affects, or whose ‘love game’ was taken.
    My old text books confirm this in sentences with 人の~を style passive sentences.
    The original meaning I had intended was that Mさん had two love games taken from him by his opponent (not me).
    Mさんは(相手に)love gameを二つとられた。
    Perhaps 相手 is needed here, if 私 is incorrectly implied.

  3. > I thought the action was happening on ‘love game’, because it was being ‘taken’.
    That’s not incorrect; 「love game」 is the object of the verb とる.
    > But perhaps it is better to think of who this action affects, or whose ‘love game’ was taken.
    Since you want to use the passive voice (受身形), there must be a party to whom this was done. The “taking of the love game” involved the love game as the object, but it also involved someone whose love game was taken. That person “receives” the action, and thus is marked に in active voice, が in passive voice.
    With passive voice, it helps me to think of the active voice, and identify who is the actor (marked が) and who is the receiver (marked に), even if they’re not explicitly stated; then simply reverse the roles to apply the passive voice.
    love gameをとった。
    → (Mさんが)(相手に)love gameをとった。
    → (相手が)(Mさんに)love gameをとられた。

  4. Again, thanks for your feedback.
    I understand the particles が and に for active and passive voice, but had forgotten the case when a person and his/her object are involved and を becomes necessary. As my sentence was in two parts, things became a little more confusing.
    What I was trying to say was the reverse of the Japanese in your last comment.