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
- Verb て-Form + もらう
- E.g. 貸してもらう [Receive the favor of X lending something]
- E.g. 来てもらう [Receive the favor of X coming]
- 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. 私は隣の人にペンを貸してもらった。[I received the favor of the man next to me lending me his pen.]
- E.g. *隣の人は私にペンを貸してもらった。[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. *弟は私にラジオを貸してもらった。[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. 私は先生に本を貸していただいた。[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. 木村さんは大野さんに車を貸してもらった。[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 に or から. But with てもらう, the giver can only be marked by に.
- E.g. *私は隣の人からペンを貸してもらった。[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: 父にカメラを買ってもらった。[I received the favor of my father buying me a camera.] In this example, the first person subject and its particle (i.e. 私は) are omitted.
- E.g. Second person subject in an interrogative sentence: ベックに何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. 君は) are omitted.
私は友達に来てもらった。[I received the benefit of my friend coming over.]
木村さんは大野さんに車を貸してもらった。[Mr. Kimura received the favor of having Ono-san lend him his car.]
ジョンソンさんは鈴木さんに日本語を教えてもらっている。[Mr. Johnson received the favor of having Kimura-san teach him English.]
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