What was the last gift you received or gave to someone? Do you know how to say it in Japanese? This lesson explains the giving and receiving and when to use what verb. In many countries around the world, people exchange gifts not only during holidays, but also on birthday, wedding, or other occasions. Japanese people like gifts very much, so, you should learn and practice this grammar thoroughly.
I sometimes have problems using this grammar because there are many variables to consider. For example, you must evaluate your status, the status of the other person, whether you are giving/receiving an object or an action, if you give something to your pet or to a person. You have to do this evaluation in your brain in less than a second. That is why I admire Japanese people, they sure have a powerful processor in their heads.
So, I will try to explain the sentence patterns as simple as possible. The simplest is to divide the structure into “giving” and “receiving”. And then divide it further to lower levels. You will see that later. はじめましょうか？(Shall we start?)
Ageru, Kureru, Morau difference
The meaning of Ageru and Kureru is “to give”. The English meaning of Morau is “to receive”. So, if both ageru and kureru mean “to give”, are they interchangeable? The answer is No. Let’s explain.
If you are giving something to someone else either from in-group (uchi) or out-group (soto), or people in out-group give something to each other, you use あげる. So, the movement of given object is from inner circle to bigger circle.
On the other hand, if someone from out-group (bigger circle) gives something to in-group or you, くれる is used. So, the movement of the given object is from bigger circle to inner circle.
If the subject in the sentence is the receiver, you use もらう. In this case, it’s natural to omit 私 に in a sentence where もらう is used to sound more natural. If you want to say that someone received a gift from you, use the pattern with あげる (ageru) instead.
Giving and receiving sentence structure
The structure itself is not that difficult. Just keep in mind who is the subject in the sentence. Is it the giver or the receiver? The subject is followed by the particle は or が.
- Giver は / が Receiver に Object を Ageru / Kureru
- Receiver は / が Giver に Object を Morau
呉れる – Japanese kureru kanji
上げる – Japanese ageru kanji
貰う – Japanese morau kanji
Giving and receiving in Japanese keigo aka honorific speech
I won’t speak much about keigo, kenjougo, sonkeigo here, because that is a far more advanced grammar and a lot of new words. But, when speaking about the meaning of giving and receiving, you should know that there are more verbs you can use. The verb you use is based on social status of the giver and receiver, but the sentence structure stays the same as described above.
Download the keigo giving/receiving verbs diagram
When giving something, these are the sentence patterns for each verb and their meaning:
Giver は / が Receiver に Object を Sashiageru (the giver has lower status than the receiver)
Giver は / が Receiver に Object を Ageru (the giver and the receiver have about the same status)
Giver は / が Receiver に Object を Yaru (the giver is giving the object to a person/animal with lower status)
Giver は / が Receiver に Object を Kureru (the giver has higher or equal status than the receiver)
Giver は / が Receiver に Object を Kudasaru (the giver has higher status than the receiver)
- (私は) 部長に ワインを さしあげました。Buchou ni wain o sashiagemashita (I gave wine to the manager.)
- クラスメートは 私に カップケーキを くれた。 Kurasumeeto wa watashi ni kappukeeki o kureta. (My classmate gave me a cupcake.)
As mentioned earlier, if the receiver is the subject, the following structure is used. In keigo, there is only one more verb for receiving.
Receiver は / が Giver に Object を Itadaku (If the receiver received the object from a superior e.g. a boss)
Receiver は / が Giver に Object を Morau (If the receiver got the object from someone with the same or lower status)
- まいちゃん は 先生に 辞書を いただきました。Mai-chan wa sensei ni jisho o itadakimashita. (Mai received a dictionary from teacher.)
- ケンくん は スミス様 に お金を いただきます。 Ken-kun wa Sumisu-sama ni okane o itadakimasu. (Ken will receive money from Mr. Smith.)
- ケンくん は まいちゃん に 本を もらいません。 Ken-kun wa Mai-chan ni hon o moraimasen. (Ken will not get a book from Mai.)
Ageru / Kureru / Morau practice
Now, if you know the three basic sentence patterns, let’s practice a little bit. Shall we?
First, translate the following sentences either to English or Japanese:
- The teacher gave me homework.
- My mother will give my younger brother a car for his birthday.
- 私は花に水をやりました。(Watashi wa hana ni mizu o yarimashita)
- Mai received a chocolate from Ken.
Now, add appropriate particles to form a correct sentence:
- けんくん__まいちゃん__ペン__もらいました。 (translation: Ken will get a pen from Mai)
- 田中さん__山下さん__ぼうし__あげます。 (translation: Mr. Tanaka will give Mr. Yamashita a hat)
So, what do you think? この文法はかんたんか？むずかしいか？Is this grammar easy or difficult? Wait for part 2.