Learning Mandarin: Does Chinese have a passive voice like we do in English?

In English, we can choose to write with an active voice:

The thief stole my bicycle.

We can also write with a passive voice:

My bicycle was stolen by the thief.

We could also write, somewhat awkwardly:

The thief, in relation to my bike, stole.

So the question is about whether the same thing appears in Chinese. And the answer is Yes.

Here is an active voice for the sentence above. It's closer to the awkward third option above.

小偷把我的自行车偷了。  (Xiǎotōu bǎ wǒ de zìxíngchē tōule.)

Xiǎotōu is the thief.

zìxíngchē is the bicycle.

wǒ de says it's mine.

tōu is the verb that indicates taken or stolen.

le indicates that the action has already occurred.

So what's this ba thing?

The curious word in this though is bǎ. It's the word that's like "in relation to". It changes the standard sentence order from:

Subject verb object

to:

Subject object verb.

Bei changes these to passive

To move to the passive voice, we can use 被字句 (bèizìjù) i.e. sentences using (bèi) instead of  bǎ. It then becomes:

Object  bèi  Subject.

The sentence then becomes:

我的自行车被小偷偷了。 (Wǒ de zìxíngchē bèi xiǎotōu tōule.)

This would directly mean "My bike, the thief stole". Properly translated though, it would be:

My bike was stolen by the thief.

And yes, that's passive voice.

Learning Mandarin

I'll write more soon on the best methods for learning. If you want to get a taste for it in the meantime though, my current favorite site is iTalki, and my favorite teacher by far is Amy He. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.

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