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What Is させられる?
Verbs ending in 〜させられる are said to be in the "causative passive" form. This may sound scary, and this form is notorious for being tricky—maybe partly because of the length of both the form and its name!—but it's actually relatively straightforward. The name itself is very logical, as it is simply a verb that has been turned into the causative form (the one that adds the meaning "to make" or "to let"), and then the passive form (the one that adds the meaning "to be done"). In other words, you just need to turn a verb into the causative, then turn the resulting causative verb into the passive.
It is best tackled once you're already familiar with its two component parts. So, if you don't know much about the Japanese causative form or the Japanese passive form yet, go check out our posts on 〜させる (causative) and 〜られる (passive), then come right back here. Go ahead, we'll wait!
Okay, so now that you're up to speed on the causative させる form and the passive られる form, let's look at what happens when we put them together to make the causative passive させられる.
The causative form させる, as you now know, means either "to make someone do something," or "to let someone do something." The passive form られる means "to be done." So the result of combining these two together into 〜させられる, gives the meaning "to be made to do something." Once it's made passive, the causative loses its other meaning of "to let someone do something," and just keeps the meaning of being made to do something.
This form is completely regular, so once you know the causative and the passive, you just need to combine them in that order—so, always causative and then passive, never the other way round. Since it's so regular, we haven't included a separate post for how to put it together, but it can seem mind-bogglingly long at first, so here is a handy conjugation chart anyway. Try saying each of them out loud a few times to get used to the way they feel!
How to Use させられる
Now let's have a look at when you would want to rock out this mouthful. As we said, this form adds the meaning of being made to do something. Since this form is limited to "made to do something" and doesn't include "allowed to do something" like the normal causative, its use is actually pretty limited.
Imagine you hate 納豆 (natto—that delicious bean treat that some people inexplicably dislike). Your mom says it's good for you, so she makes you eat it anyway. In this case you can say:
- I'm made to eat natto every day by my mom.
Your dad is also big on keeping you healthy, and he wants you to get more exercise. You called him to ask for a ride home yesterday, but he made you walk:
- I was made to walk home by my dad.