Wild Nihongo!
てもらう / ていただく

てもらう / ていただく

てもらう / ていただく Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Auxiliary Verb (Group 1)

Essential Meaning: Receive the benefit of someone’s action / Have X done by Y (for one’s benefit) / Receive the favor of X

Construction: 

  • Verb て-Form + もらう
    • E.g. してもらう [Receive the favor of X lending something]
    • E.g. てもらう [Receive the favor of X coming]

Notes:

  • てもらう describes a situation in which the speaker (or someone with whom the speaker closely empathizes) has an action done as a favor to them or somehow receives the benefit of someone’s action. The regular verb もらう means “To receive“, so you can think of てもらう as meaning “To receive the favor of Action X“.
    • E.g. わたしとなりひとにペンをしてもらった。[I received the favor of the man next to me lending me his pen.]
    • E.g. *となりひとわたしにペンをしてもらった。[The man next to me received the favor of me lending him my pen.] This sentence is ungrammatical due to a viewpoint conflict. A sentence with てもらう must take the viewpoint of the speaker, but this sentence takes the viewpoint of the man.
    • E.g. *おとうとわたしにラジオをしてもらった。[My little brother received the favor of me lending him my radio.] Even if the subject is someone close to the speaker, if the speaker is present in the sentence, the sentence must take his or her viewpoint.
  • The polite version of てもらう is ていただく.
    • E.g. わたし先生せんせいほんしていただいた。[I received the favor of having my teacher lend me a book.]
  • When てもらう is used in a 3rd person situation, the speaker clearly empathizes with the receiver of the benefit rather than the giver of the benefit.
    • E.g. 木村きむらさんは大野おおのさんにくるましてもらった。[Mr. Kimura received the favor of having Ono-san lend him his car.] Clearly, the speaker identifies with Mr. Kimura.
  • With the regular verb もらう, the giver can be marked by either or から. But with てもらう, the giver can only be marked by .
    • E.g. *わたしとなりひとからペンをしてもらった。[I received the favor of the man next to me lending me his pen.] It is ungrammatical to mark the giver with から when using てもらう.
  • Just like the regular verb もらう, first person subjects in declarative sentences and second person subjects in interrogative sentences can be omitted.
    • E.g. First person subject in a declarative sentence: ちちにカメラをってもらった。[I received the favor of my father buying me a camera.] In this example, the first person subject and its particle (i.e. わたしは) are omitted.
    • E.g. Second person subject in an interrogative sentence: ベックになにをしてもらいましたか。[What favor did you receive from Beck?] In this example, the second person subject and its particle (i.e. きみは) are omitted.

Example Sentences:

わたし友達ともだちてもらった。[I received the benefit of my friend coming over.]

木村きむらさんは大野おおのさんにくるましてもらった。[Mr. Kimura received the favor of having Ono-san lend him his car.]

ジョンソンさんは鈴木すずきさんに日本語にほんごおしえてもらっている。[Mr. Johnson received the favor of having Kimura-san teach him English.]

WILD Examples:

This song begins with the following line: かんコーヒーのたかが一本いっぽん、おまえおごってもらう [I received the favor of you treating me to a can of coffee]
Listen to this line from 2:02: この瞬間しゅんかんかんじてもらえたら、ただそれだけでいい [If I am able to receive the favor of you feeling the moment, that alone would be enough]

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