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Passive Sentences

Within active sentences, the focus is on the agent (whoever or whatever is doing the verb) however passive sentences focus on the patient of the verb (the receiver of the action). Passive sentences change the focus to whoever or whatever is affected by the verb (the patient).

Following is an example of the construction of a passive sentence. Note that passive sentences use the same tense markers as active sentences.

Tense + verb(passivised) + patient + e + agent
Kua + hanga(ia) + te marae + e + ngā tohunga

Kua hangaia te marae e ngā tohunga.
The marae has been built by the experts.

Compare this with the active form:

Kua hanga ngā tohunga i te marae.
The experts have built the marae.

Notice the differences which take place:

  1. There is a 'tail' or passive ending on the verb.
  2. The direct object marker 'i' has been deleted;
  3. The word e comes before the agent.

There are special affixes or 'tails' which go on the ends of verbs in passive sentences. These 'tails' depend on which verb you use. Following are examples of just some of them:

Passive English Example
kōrero(tia) speak / talk I korerotia ngā kupu e te tama.
The words were spoken by the boy.
tango(hia) remove / take off Kua tangohia ōku hū.
My shoes have been removed.
mahi(a) work Kua mahia te mahi e au.
The work has been finished by me.
hanga(ia) build Kua hangaia te marae e ngā tohunga.
The marae has been built by the experts.
whai (whāia) chase, pursue I whāia au e te pūru.
I was chased by the bull.

Not all verbs have a passive form.

Passive sentences are used much more frequently in Māori. Note that in the examples above the English translations may sometimes seem unnatural, therefore it is sometimes best to switch between passive and active when translating between Māori and English.