Giving and Receiving in Japanese Verbs -
Free Japanese Lessons: 20

In this lesson you will get to learn the Japanese verbs on giving and receiving.

There are 3 special verbs that you will come across very often on giving and receiving. They are:

  1. あげます (agemasu)
  2. もらいます (moraimasu)
  3. くれます (kuremasu)

In the first 2 verbs, あげます (agemasu) means "to give" and もらいます (moraimasu) means "to receive".

Let's look at the following expressions using this 2 Japanese verbs...

Giver は Receiver に Object を あげます
Giver wa Receiver ni Object wo agemasu

Receiver は Giver に/から Object を もらいます
Receiver wa Giver ni/kara Object wo moraimasu

In the first expression, the focus is put on the Giver as it is the topic. It means the Giver is giving Object to the Receiver.

Whereas in the second expression, the emphasis is put on the Receiver. The sentence means the Receiver is receiving Object from the Giver.

For the second expression, you can either use に (ni) or から (kara) before the Object.

Let's make some examples using the above 2 expressions to explain the two Japanese verbs more clearly.

Assuming that yesterday was Mr Yamada's birthday and he has received a present from his friend Mr Tanaka.

  • たなかさん  やまださん  ほんを あげました
    tanaka san wa yamada san ni hon wo agemashita

    Meaning: Mr Tanaka gave a book to Mr Yamada.
  • やまださん たなかさん ほんを もらいました
    yamada san wa tanaka san ni hon wo moraimashita

    Meaning: Mr Yamada received a book from Mr Tanaka.

How to Ask Question in あげます and もらいます Sentences?

You can change the Japanese verb sentence into question by changing some of the words. Let's use the previous example as a model...

  • たなかさん  やまださん  ほんを あげました

If you want to ask who is the person that たなかさん has given the book to, change やまださん to だれ (dare)...

  • たなかさんは だれ にほんをあげましたか。
    tanaka san wa dare ni hon wo agemashitaka

If you want to ask what is the thing that たなかさん has given to やまださん, change ほん to なに (nani)...

  • たなかさんはやまださんに なに をあげましたか。
    tanaka san wa yamada san ni nani wo agemashitaka

If you want to ask who has given やまださん a book, change たなかさん to だれ (dare). However, you cannot have question word with は (wa) such as だれは (darewa). In this case you need to replace は (wa) with が (ga)...

  • だれが やまださんにほんをあげましたか。
    dare ga yamada san ni hon wo agemashitaka

Using the same logic, you can create the questions for the もらいます sentences.

  • やまださんは だれ にほんをもらいましたか。
    yamada san wa dare ni hon wo moraimashitaka
  • やまださんはたなかさんに なに をもらいましたか。
    yamada san wa tanaka san ni nani wo moraimashitaka
  • だれが たなかさんにほんをもらいましたか。
    dare ga tanaka san ni hon wo moraimashitaka

あげます (agemasu) and くれます (kuremasu) Sentences

The third Japanese verb くれます (kuremasu) has the same meaning of "to give" as あげます (agemasu). However, you need to take note of some rules to decide which one to use in your sentence.

Giver は Receiver に Object を あげます
Giver wa Receiver ni Object wo agemasu

Giver は Receiver に Object を くれます
Giver wa Receiver ni Object wo kuremasu

In Japanese custom, it is important and is always the first priority to show respect to other people (third person).

In that perspective, your family members are considered part of yourself. Therefore when comparing to third person, your family members have to be in lower priority.

Secondly, if third person is absent, you have to show respect to your family members, putting yourself in the lowest priority. This is even true to family members younger than you.

Based on the above two conditions, when you have to show respect to ONLY the Giver, use くれます (kuremasu). Other than that you have to use the Japanese verb あげます (agemasu).

In summary, look at the following table to decide which Japanese verb to use...

Giver Receiver Use
1. Third Person Third Person あげます
2. Third Person Me/Family Members くれます
3. I/Family Members Third Person あげます
4. Family Members Me くれます
5. I Family Members あげます

It will be easier to understand the above with some examples...


たなかさんはやまださんにはなを あげました
tanaka san wa yamada san ni hana wo agemashita

Meaning: Mr Tanaka gave flower to Mr Yamada.


たなかさんはいもうとにはなを くれました
tanaka san wa imouto ni hana wo kuremashita

Meaning: Mr Tanaka gave flower to my younger sister.


ちちはたなかさんにコーヒーを あげました
chichi wa tanaka san ni ko-hi- wo agemashita

Meaning: My father gave coffee to Mr Tanaka.


おとうとはわたしにプレゼントを くれました
otouto wa watashi ni purezento wo kuremashita

Meaning: My younger brother gave present to me. 


わたしはははにおかねを あげました
watashi wa haha ni okane wo agemashita

Meaning: I gave money to my mother. 

It will be good if you can understand the concept of the above Japanese verbs because Japanese use them frequently in their daily conversation.

Related Pages

Lesson 18: Verbs.

Lesson 19: Verbs Part 2 - Change dictionary-form to masu-form and nai-form.

Lesson 21: Verbs te-form.

Lesson 22: Verbs on Progress Action, Habitual Action & Occupation.

Lesson 23: Verbs of Motion & How to Make Request in Japanese.

Lesson 29: Verbs on State Continuation.

Lesson 30: Verbs - Transitive and Intransitive verbs.

Lesson 31: Verbs on State Continuation Transitive/Intransitive.

Intermediate Lesson 37: Giving and Receiving of Actions in Japanese Part 1.

Intermediate Lesson 38: Giving and Receiving of Actions in Japanese Part 2.

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Previous - Lesson 19: Verbs Part 2

Next        - Lesson 21: Verbs te-form



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