The other day I was trying to explain a grammatical construction to a Japanese friend. The phrase I had written in my e-mail was the following: " 'tikkin suupu' is written 'chicken soup' in English". He asked me why this phrase requires "to be" + the past participle. It seemed to me at the time that this is a passive voice construction but I'm not sure what the name for it is or how to explain it.

Anyway, this is how I explained it to him: the past participle is used because the action of writing was done in the past and the verb "to be" is used because it's describing the phrase as it is now. I also gave the example "the building is built of brick". The building was done in the past but "is" describes the building as it is now. Is this correct?
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Hi Chat blue.

I'm an English learning Japanese. I'm afraid I did not catch what you are really asking, but I'll try.

In English you have two sorts of passive constructions: dynamic passive and stative passive. For example "John F Kennedy was buried in 1968" is a dynamic passive and "John F Kennedy is buried in Arlington" is a stative passive. By using stative passive constructions you can describe the current state resulting from some past action. JFK got buried in 1968 in Arlington and he is still now buried in Arlington. Suppose you are married, then you once got married and you have been in the status of being married since then until now. Grammatically past participles are verbal adjectives. But those in stative passive constructions are more adjectival than verbal. Indeed "married" in the stative passive construction is treated as an adjective in most dictionaries.

I'm not sure this will be helpful to you but hope so.

Yeah, that helps me a lot. I wasn't sure because I looked up passive voice in my grammar book and all they gave me were examples of passives with the present progessive like "being buried" etc.

It's a little difficult to describe the passive voice to a Japanese person because the usage of it is a little different between the two languages. For example, "is written" is simply translated into the present tense ?? instead of ????.
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Hi Chat Bleu

You can write Japanese Kanjis!! How did you learn them!?

We use a lot of passive constructions in our own language, but the problem is that we say the way like instead of speaking the way like <'Tikkin suupu' is written 'chicken soup' in English>.

I take Japanese at college and I've been studying a lot of the kanji on my own. My goal is to teach in Japan after I get my diploma so I figure it's a good idea for me to learn the language before going there.

As for the passive voice, my experience has been that a lot of English teachers seem not to like it very much. Most of my English teachers demand a more direct style like your example of "one writes..." as opposed to "is written". I think this might just be an American thing though. My high school French teacher warned me that English teachers would hate passive voice in my papers and she was right. Emotion: wink Is passive voice more widely used where you're from?
Chat Bleu

Yes we have a lot of passive constructions. We use often passive constructions to express our being a victim/patient of an event which happened against our will. Some of them will puzzle you. One example is (I got died by my wife) that corresponds to the active voice (My wife died/was dead).

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This sentence uses passive voice just because of that the subject is not an executor of the verb.For example,"write"should be executed by man,so does "building".
Oh wait! You're Japanese!? I thought you meant that you are an Englishman who is learning Japanese. I feel stupid now.Emotion: stick out tongue Anyway, at least now I feel about how I explained that structure to my other friend. I think I was closer to being right than I thought.

Chat Bleu ??


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