[Grammar] 피동문 – Passive Sentence

In active voice sentences, subjects ‘do’ some actions while subjects ‘get/receive’ some actions in passive voice sentences.

(내가) 문을 열었다. I opened the door. (active voice)
문이 열렸다.  The door is open. (by wind/someone) (passive voice)

There are two ways to make a passive sentence in Korean. The first one is with ‘passive verbs’, and the other one is ‘Verb+아/어/여지다’.  For example,

경찰도둑을 잡았다. (잡다 : to catch, grab) – Police caught a thief.
도둑경찰한테 잡혔다. (잡히다 : be caught) – A thief was caught by police.


동생접시깼다. (깨다 : to break) – My sister broke a plate.
접시깨졌다. (깨어지다 => 깨지다 : be broken) – A plate was broken.

If a verb has a passive form, you should use the passive form. If not, you use -아/어/여지다.

Passive verbs are already fixed, mostly are added -이-, -히-, -리-, -기- after a verb stem. For example,

  • Verbs with -이- 
동사(Verb) 피동사(Passive verb)  피동문(Passive sentence)
보다(to see) 칠판이 잘 안 보여요.I can’t see the black board.
쓰다(to write) 영어로 쓰인 책을 읽을 수 없어요. I can’t read books written in English.
놓다(to put on) 책상 위에 놓인 책은 가지고 가지 마세요. Please don’t take those books that are on the desk.
쌓다(to stack) 눈이 많이 쌓여서 학교에 갈 수 없어요. I can’t go to school because the snow piles up too much.
섞다(to mix) 물과 기름은 섞이지 않아요. Water and oil don’t mix.
바꾸다(to change) 친구와 핸드폰이 바뀌었어요. I took my friend’s phone by accident.
  • Verb with -히-
동사(Verb) 피동사(Passive verb)  피동문(Passive sentence)
먹다 토끼가 사자한테 먹히지 않으려고 도망간다. The rabbit is running away not to be eaten by a Lion.
읽다 이 책은 어려워서 잘 안 읽힌다. I can’t read this book fast because it is too difficult.
잡다 도둑이 경찰한테 잡혔다. A thief was caught by police.
밟다 버스 안에서 발을 밟혀서 정말 아팠다. I was stepped on my foot, it was really hurt.
접다 돈이 접혀서 ATM기에 안 들어간다. I can’t put the money in the ATM machine because it is folded.
업다 아기가 엄마 등에 업혀 있다. The mom gives the baby a piggyback ride. The baby is on the mom’s back.
  • Verb with -리- 
동사(Verb) 피동사(Passive verb)  피동문(Passive sentence)
팔다 이 펜은 싸서 잘 팔린다. This pen is sold very well because it’s cheap.
밀다 차가 밀려서 좀 늦었어요. I was late because there was a traffic jam.
풀다 이 머리 끈은 잘 안 풀려서 좋다. This hair band is good because it is not loose.
열다 문이 잘 안 열리니까 세게 열어야 돼요. You have to open really hard because it doesn’t open very well.
걸다 전화가 안 걸리는데요. The phone can’t get through.
듣다 잘 안 들리는데 크게 말해 주시겠어요? I can’t hear you, can you speak louder?
  • Verb with -기-
동사(Verb) 피동사(Passive verb)  피동문(Passive sentence)
안다 아기가 아빠에게 안겨서 잠을 잔다. The baby is sleeping in the dad’s arms.
씻다 이 얼룩이 잘 안 씻겨서 두 번이나 빨았어요. This stain doesn’t go away that well, so I washed twice.
찢다 이 책의 45쪽이 찢겨서 읽을 수 없어요. The page 45 of this book was ripped, so I can’t read.
쫓다 도둑이 경찰한테 쫓기고 있습니다. The thief is chased by police.
뺏다 오늘 강도를 만나서 돈을 뺏겼어요. I was robbed by a robber today.
끊다 전화가 끊겨서 이야기를 다 못했어요. I couldn’t finish talking because the phone was cut off.


If there are not matching passive verbs, then add -아/어/여지다 after a verb stem.

동사 -아/어/여지다  
만들다 만들어지다 이 병은 유리로 만들어졌어요. This bottle is made of glass.
깨다 지다 컵이 떨어져서 깨졌어요. The cup was dropped and broken.
켜다 지다 손을 대면 불이 저절로 켜질 거예요. If you touch, the light will be on automatically.
끄다 지다 전기가 나가서 텔레비전이 꺼졌어요. The power was off, so TV was turned off.
이루다 이루어지다 소원이 이루어질 거예요. Your dream will be come true.


Passive voice is often confusing with causative sentences which are ‘make/have/let someone do’, but they are different.

You can study causative sentences by clicking here. 

You can listen to the audio files by clicking here.