Give and take - Ageru, kureru e morau

In Japanese there is more than one verb that means “give, bring, receive“. The choice of this verb will depend on the direction of the transaction. In this article, we will examine 3 verbs that have a big impact on this subject.

Ageru and Kureru

The most common way of saying the verb “give or receive” is あげる (ageru) and くれる(kureru), but when to use each one?

  • あげる - Ageru is used when I give it to you give it to others, I give it to others, someone gives it to someone;
  • くれる - The kureru is used when someone gives it to me, you give it to me, someone gives it to me;

We must remember that the donor is the subject of the sentence, and is accompanied by the particle は or が. The recipient is accompanied by the particle に.

  • (Donor)は/が (Recipient) (object) (verb ageru / kureru)

Example sentences:

Nee asagohan tsukutte kureru?
Hey, can you make breakfast?

Kinou tsukutte ageta kara kyou wa kimi no ban dayo!
I already did it yesterday, so today is your turn!

Just like any verb, they are conjugated in the necessary way. There is a formal way of speaking あげる that is 差し上げる (sashiageru) and a formal way of speaking くれる that is 下さる (Kudasaru).


もらう - Morau is used when receiving something from someone, from the receiver's point of view.

But how so? We can compare in English:

  • Lucas gives me (from) a book;
  • I received a book from Lucas;

While in the case of kureru and ageru the (giver) gives it to the (receiver), using the morau we give the idea of the (receiver) receiving from (giver). In the case of default, we invert the recipient with donor.

  • (Recipient)は/が(donor)に…
  • (Recipient)は/が(donor) から(kara) + (object) を もらう

Example sentences: 

Watashi wa Kevin ni okashi o moratta.
I got candy from Kevin.

Kono hana wa dare kara moratta no?
From whom did you receive these flowers?

As we noticed in the first example of くれる, we can use くれる to ask for things, while もらう, we use it only to say that we received something. The formal way of saying もらう is 頂く (=itadaku).

Using Shite して

We use あげる, くれる and もらう together with the verb して to say that we are receiving or giving actions. Examples:

  • (し) てくれる - Someone do you a favor
  • (し) てあげる - Someone does something to someone (the speaker’s point of view)
  • (し) てもらう - Someone did something for you (from your point of view)

Example sentences: 

Suzuki-san ga ogotte kureta
Suzuki treated me.

Suzuki-san ni ogotte moratta.
I was treated by Susuki.

Kevin ni ogotte ageta.
I treated Kevin.

I hope this article has cleared your doubts about these 3 verbs. Just go deeper into the language, and time will teach us.

Still have doubts? This video in English can help a little, it is all illustrative, it is not necessary to understand English to watch:


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