N5 – Giving & Receiving

Giving and receiving in Japan

If you’re familiar with the Japanese culture, you might have noticed that Japanese people are big on giving gifts. There are many different customs in Japanese culture that includes giving and receiving gifts. For instance, Giving お土産 to your friends, colleagues and family after you’ve returned from a trip. ( I will talk more about this in detail in a culture post later on ).

In short, using あげる,くれる and もらう properly is quite important if you are serious about Japanese language, or even if you just want to talk to some Japanese friends or visit Japan.

But how exactly do we use this?

  • How to use 「あげる」


  • 花小【はな・こ】- Hanako (Given name)
  • あげる(Ru-verb) – to give; to raise
  • 私【わたし】- I; myself; me
  • 本【ほん】- Book
  • 息子【むす・こ】- Son
  • プレゼント - Present
  • 友達【とも・だち】- Friend
  • 大野【おお・の】- Ono (Surname)
  • 山本【やま・もと】- Yamamoto (Surname)
  • 君【きみ】- You
  • 何【なに】- What
  • 話す【はな・す】- To speak; to talk
  • 食べる【た・べる】- To eat
  • お母さん【お・かあ・さん】- Mother
  • 田中【た・なか】- Tanaka (Surname)
  • スミス - Smith


あげる is one of the set of giving and receiving verbs in Japanese; the meaning is ‘to give’ from the speaker’s point of view. Thus, example (a) and (b) are ungrammatical.

A) 花小は私に本をあげた(Hanako gave me a book)

B)花小は私の息子に本をあげた(Hanako gave my son a book)

In order to make this sentence grammatically correct we need to use くれる. However, we will cover that later in this post.

Examples using あげる

  • 私が友達にプレゼントをあげた(I gave a present to a friend)
  • 大野さんは山本さんに本をあげた(Ono-san gave Yamamoto-san a book)
  • 君はアンに何をあげましたか?(What did you give to Ann?)

In order to express the giving of a favor (Verb) you must attach あげる after the て-form of a verb.

て-form + あげる
→ 話してあげる (Talk for s.o’s sake)
→ 食べてあげる (Eat for s.o’s sake)

  • 君はお母さんに何をしてあげましたか?(What did you do for your mother?)
  • 田中さんはスミスさんに本を貸してあげた(Tanaka-san lent a book to Smith-san)


The polite form of あげる is さしあげる and is used exactly the same way as あげる

  • やる(u-verb)- To do
  • 弟【おとうと】- Little brother
  • ひろし - Hiroshi (Given name)
  • 猫【ねこ】- Cat
  • ミルク - Milk
  • ケーキ - Cake
  • トム - Tom
  • 花【はな】- Flower
  • 水【みず】- Water


Using 「やる」as 「あげる」
やる is a very impolite / casual version of あげる so using this to people might be risky. Some would say you can use it towards people of lower rank, such as a close friend or younger siblings, but in order to stay on the safe side; use it mainly when speaking of animals and plants.

  • 私は弟に本をやった(I gave my little brother a book)
  • ひろしは猫にミルクをやった (Hiroshi gave milk to the cat)
  • 私はトムにケーキをやりました(I gave a cake to tom)

In the last example above, tom is the speaker’s intimate friend.

  • 私は花に水をやった(I gave the flowers water )



How to use 「くれる」

くれる also means ”to give” and is pretty much the opposite of あげる in the sense that you use くれる when someone else is giving something or doing something for you.(Receiver’s point of view)

  • ビルは(君に)何をくれましたか?(What did Bill give you?)
  • 川村さんは私の娘にレコードをくれた(Kawamura-san gave my daughter a record)
  • これは、先生にくれた(Teacher gave this to me)
  • 母は(私に)ケーキを焼いてくれた(My mother baked a cake for me)
  • ウォーカーさんは私の息子に英語を教えてくれている(Mr. Walker is teaching my son English)



The polite form of くれる is くださる

How to use もらう


  • もらう(u-verb)- To receive
  • 隣【となり】- Neighbor; next to
  • 貸す【か・す】To lend; to loan;To rent out; to hire out
  • ペン - Pen


This means ‘to receive’ and unlike くれる/あげる, もらう has only one version. So explaining this is quite easy. However, one thing worth mentioning;

〜てもらう/〜ていただきます can be marked by only に,

whereas the giver of an object can be marked by either に or から when もらいます/いただきます is used as a main verb


  • 私は林さんに/から本をもらいました
  • 私は林さん本を貸してもらいました


More examples using もらう
  • 私が友達にプレゼントをもらった(I received a present from a friend)
  • 私は隣の人にペンを貸してもらった(I got to borrow a pen from the person beside me)


Polite form of もらう is いただきます/ いただく

Hope this was helpful and helped you to understand how to use くれる・あげる・もらう
If you think something is missing, or that there is something that could be done better and/or explained better, feel free to let me know. All comments and opinions are welcome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s