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〇〇さんにプレゼントをもらいました。 〇〇さんからプレゼントをもらいました。

I feel it is more natural to use particle に, but I'm not a native speaker. Can someone please help me out on this? Both these options are listed in the current text I'm using to teach my students, but I want to be able to explain in further detail. I also wish to advise them of the difference between the use of the two and which is more common.

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If に marks the source of something then it can be replaced by から, eg:

父にもらいました|I received it from my father.

だれに聞きましたか。|Who told you?

If に marks an agent then it cannot. eg:

僕はアメリカ人に英語を教えてもらいました。|I had an American teach me English.

(兄は私に五時間も運転させました。|My older brother made me drive for 5 hours.)

Also, に=>psychological closeness to the human source so sometimes から has be used, eg:

ビルさんは[文科省]{もんかしょう}から/に*[奨学金]{しょうがくきん}をもらいました |

Bill received a scholarship from the Ministry of Education.

In your example either is fine.

Reference: Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar - ni(3)

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僕はアメリカ人から英語を教えてもらいました sounds grammatical to me, although に might be prescriptively preferred. Lots of relevant ghits too: google.co.jp/… – dainichi Apr 17 '13 at 2:27
At first I wondered about context but see if you can find an example with a direct object marked by を. Your search mostly shows the object being modified (-から教えてもらったN) – Tim Apr 17 '13 at 16:09
As you wish, sir: google.co.jp/… – dainichi Apr 18 '13 at 3:44
Thanks both of you. I can't really argue with Dainichi but I did notice while studying JLPT1 (ie without reference to any text) that the pattern using "ni" seemd to the norm and could not ever remember seeing the pattern with "kara" used in a question. Maybe it is common in practice but strictly speaking incorrect (and hence does not get used in text books)? – Tim Apr 19 '13 at 3:08

I don't think that native Japanese distinguish both ~に…をもらった and ~から…をもらった. Untill I read your question have I never thought about this. Japanese use both and the two are completely natural. I myself might prefer ~から…をもらった.

When we ask a hearer, for example, whom he/she got money from, we use both だれからもらったの and だれにもらったの. There is no difference between both sentences.

I am learning English. As a learner I think this way: If there are two words having approximately same usage, I would like our teacher to tell us that both of them can be used. That would bring us to the use of foreign languages without worrying about mistakes. I'm sorry I sound so selfish.

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I understand your feeling. I have felt this way many times, but if there was no difference then he probably would have not asked this question. I believe it is important to not worry about making mistakes too, but the people here, in my opinion, in most cases, are past this point and want to know the intricacies of Japanese, which is why they ask the questions. In my experience with English, there is usually a pattern that I have had yet to discover when it appears to me. – b_d_m_p Apr 21 '13 at 14:27

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