Why is 発売 used with passive form?

The examples provided for 発売 both use the passive form. Here is one.


From reading Genki, I was able to understand 1 of the 2 situations clearly. (The first one). If there are other use cases, 教えて下さい。

  1. When some action causes inconvenience
  2. Some fact (日本でオリンピックが開けれます。)

The one from WK feels like it falls in the second category. But then why not



発売する is “to offer for sale,” so 発売される is “to be offered for sale.” Whether it appears in the active or the passive depends on the subject of the sentence, which is marked by が.

If the subject is the person or entity offering something for sale, it will be used with する. If the subject is the item being offered for sale, it will appear in the passive, with される. (In English, it’s the same-- “to offer” is active and “to be offered” is passive.)

Here, the subject of the verb is the item being offered for sale (「…チーズタルト」). So it appears in the passive.

Consider this example of an active sentence, courtesy of Jisho:

My uncle’s company launched a new product last month.

In this case, the entity doing the offering (会社) is the subject, so the sentence is active rather than passive.

Edit: I just saw your follow-up question regarding the verb at the end of the sentence. If you look at the translation of the sentence, the intended meaning here is “we have decided” to sell the cheese tarts. Again, this is an active sense, because the subject (we) is performing the action (deciding).

In Japanese, personal pronouns are often if not usually ellipsed, so there isn’t an explicit 私達が to act as subject of 決定. It’s up to the listener to interpret from context what is meant. But the use of する rather than される gives an important clue to the meaning of the sentence— する indicates that the speaker has made a decision, or is reporting that someone else made a decision, to sell the tarts. される would have the sense of “it has been decided” that the tarts will be sold— leaving it vague as to who decided it, and potentially indicating powerlessness over, or discontent with, the decision.


I think it’s the same reason that we say goods are “being sold at stores” in English. The product is made by a company, and then it is sold by stores - so from the company’s perspective, the product is being sold by third parties. The reason it isn’t 決定された is because the decision to release the product was the company’s and not the stores’. The actual selling, however, is being done by the stores and thus is passive relative to the company.

Also grammatically I think what @BreadstickNinja said is probably correct.


Genki starts by explaining the suffering passive? That seems really strange to me. Why wouldn’t they start with just… normal passive.


Yeah, Genki II introduces the passive in a really weird way. It covers the negative nuance of the passive form when the subject or agent is a person, with only a footnote that the passive can also be used with inanimate objects without a negative nuance. However, it ignores entirely the two strangest grammar points about the suffering passive:

  1. The use of を to mark what should really be the subject of the passive verb (even used in one of the Genki example sentences, but not explained)
  2. The use of passive forms of intransitive verbs, which have no corollary in English

It’s nowhere near as bad as Tae Kim’s write-up on this— omission is better than pure nonsense— but it’s bound to be confusing to the reader. Only Imabi really explains this well of any resource I’ve seen.


I just went through imabi. Never even knew it existed until now. Felt like Genki skipped a huge chunk of passive form. Thanks for explaining.

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Thanks for the tip! ^>^ I’ll be checking this one out!

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