Give and take – Ageru, kureru and 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 are going to examine 3 verbs that have a big impact on this subject.

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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 – The ageru is used when I give to you, you give to others, I give to others, someone gives to someone;
  • くれる – The kureru is used when someone gives it to me, you give it to me, someone gives it to you;

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

  • (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 it's your turn!

Just like any verb, they are conjugated as needed. There is a formal way of saying あげる which is 差し上げる (sashiageru) and a formal way of saying くれる which is 下さる (Kudasaru).


もらう - The morau is used when you receive something from someone, from the receiver's point of view.

But how so? We can compare in English:

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

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

  • (Recipient)は/がdonorに... -> to...
  • (Recipient)は/がdonor から(kara) + (object) もらう

Example sentences:

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

Kono hana wa dare kara moratta no?
Who did you get these flowers from?

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 just use it to say that we have 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 does 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 helped me.
Suzuki treated me.

I got scolded by Suzuki-san.
I was treated by Susuki.

Kevin didn't say anything.
I treated Kevin.

I hope this article has cleared your doubts about these 3 verbs. We just need to delve 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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