About Passive Forms in Korean – Korean Causative and Passive Forms #8

I covered passive and causative forms together because the conjugation is really similar. Causative form uses 이히리기우구추 and passive form only uses 이히리기. From today, we'll learn how to use passive form in Korean.

As for those who don't know what passive form is, it means to describe something being done or something forced to do. It's about some sentences like "the problem is solved by Paul", "The playground is covered with snow", etc. We'll learn how to express those sentences in Korean.

How to Make a Passive Sentence

Then, let's learn how to change active sentence to passive sentence.

경찰이 도둑을 잡았다.
The police caught the thief.

도둑이 경찰한테/경찰에게/경찰에 의해 잡혔다.
The thief is caught by the police.

What you should do here is to make the object 을/를 to 이/가 and move it to the front of the sentence. And then, change the subject 이/가 to 한테/에/에게/에 의해. It's the basics.

Like many grammar rules in Korean, it's just the beginning of the story. And like causative forms, it has no rule in it. You should just memorize case by case.

I'll tell you about the general rules about passive forms in Korean.

한테 is for Spoken Korean

First of all, you should only use 한테 in spoken Korean. If you want to be polite or if you're writing, you shouldn't use it.

왜 15년간 도망 다녔던 도둑 있잖아. 어제 경찰한테 잡혔데.
You know the thief on the run for 15 years. Police caught him yesterday.

15년 간 잠적해 있던 도둑이 어제 경찰에게 잡혔다.
The thief on the run for 15 years got caught by the police.

No 2 에게/에 in a sentence.

Second, if there is 에/에게 in the same sentence, you should not use 한테/에게. You should only use 에 의해.

집배원은 철수에게 그 편지를 전달했다.
A postman delivered the letter to 철수.

그 편지는 집배원에 의해 철수에게 전달되었다.
That letter was delivered to 철수 by a postman.

북한군이 나를 나무에 묶었다.
The North Korean army tied me to the tree.

나는 북한군에 의해 나무에 묶였다.
I was tied to the tree by North Korean army.

에게 for people and 에 for others.

Third, you should use 에게 for people and 에 for others.

벌에 쏘였다.
I was bitten by a bee.

모기한테 물렸다.
I was bitten by a mosquito.

어제 차에 치여서 많이 다쳤대.
She was hit by the car yesterday and heavily wounded.

(으)로 for tool/method.

Fourth, you can sometimes use "(으)로" when the 에게/한테/에 의해 phrase is the tool or method to do something.

운동장이 눈으로 덮였다.
The playground is covered with snow.

You can use "에" here, however, it is more natural with "으로".

Remove 에게/에/한테 if it is obvious.

Finally, you can remove 에게/에/한테 phrase if they are obvious. Let's get back to our example "모기한테 물렸다."

In this case, we should specify "I" in the English sentence. However, when you talk about it, it usually means "you". So, you can get rid of "I" in Korean. That's why we don't have to use "I" in the sentence.

In English, you can remove some obvious "by" phrases like "by people", "by them", "by everyone", etc. in passive sentences. It's the same in Korean.

그 스마트폰은 많이 쓰인다.
That smartphone is used a lot.

그 책은 잘 팔린다.
That book is sold well.