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When talking about verbs of giving/receiving, textbooks tent do talk about only the relation between 1st person and the other persons (i.e. くれる 2/3→1, あげる 1→2/3, もらう 1←2/3), and let learners generalize the rule to the other cases.

According to my grammar book, when talking about receiving of a 3rd person character from another 3rd person character, the speaker should regard one of them as the 1st person and apply the rule of [もらう 1←2/3]. What I have understood is, the speaker needs to take the more familiar one as the 1st person and let the other the 3rd.

Then I am confused when I do a multiple choice from JLPT N1 (2012.7):

川村「石田さん、ギターがほしいって言っていましたね。わたしの弟が使っていたギターがあるんですが、よければどうですか。」
石田「いいんですか。」
川村「はい。弟に聞いたら、弾いてくれる方がいるなら、ぜひと言っていましたので、どうぞもらって(やってください)。」

In this case, I want to express the receiving of Ishida (2nd) from my brother (3rd). The suffix やってください is alright to me, but how can Ishida morau something from my brother, if my brother is more familiar to me than Ishida? My grammar book says, if a reception doesn't affect the speaker at all, the more neutral 受け取る should be used. Here if I don't consider やってください, when just talking about the reception, is もらう grammatically/semantically legal (e.g. a plain narration, あなたは私の弟からギターをもらった)?

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    Not feeling qualified enough to post a full-fledged answer, but are you sure that this bit "take the more familiar one as the 1st person and let the other the 3rd" applies to もらう? あげる and くれる are complementary in the sense that they express the same action from opposite perspectives in the social hierarchy, but not もらう.
    – jarmanso7
    Nov 4, 2023 at 15:29
  • @jarmanso7 It's what my grammar book tells me, though, if I didn't misunderstand it. I browsed several webpages and found, someone says "you/he/she morau from me" and "unfamiliar person morau from my relatives/friends" are both acceptible in some cases. But I haven't seen any instance of such usages yet, and most textbooks or online materials cover only the simplest "1←2/3" or "1's relative←3" case. So I personally think there is a tendency of direction in もらう. Nov 5, 2023 at 4:06
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    I suppose your understanding (or textbook explanations) is mostly because of the fact that the subject of もらう is often I as mentioned here. Also this mentions 3 ← 3 case of もらう. Your last sentence is slightly odd because あなたは is usually omitted.
    – sundowner
    Nov 5, 2023 at 9:00
  • @sundowner Thank you for your comment. My last sentence is just an ad hoc example to illustrate my point, so I added the topic part to make clear the personal relation. Nov 5, 2023 at 12:11
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    I prefer to translate もらう as "making someone give smth to me" or "getting someone to do smth for me" instead of "receiving", because "making someone give"/"getting someone to do" doesn't work with the preposition from, while "receiving" does, and this from makes it easier to get confused with the direction of the transaction. e.g, 田中さんにケーキをもらった if translated as "I got Tanaka-san to give me a cake", then the particle に feels natural, but if translated "I got a cake from Tanaka-san", then に and from sound a bit off. I feel the same when you talk about "morau smth from my brother".
    – jarmanso7
    Nov 5, 2023 at 12:57

1 Answer 1

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how can Ishida morau something from my brother, if my brother is more familiar to me than Ishida?

In this situation, the speaker is mentally closer to Ishida-san than to the brother. And the speaker clearly knows Ishida-san would benefit from receiving the guitar. So もらってやってください is perfectly natural in this context. どうぞ受け取ってやってください is also correct, but it would sound slightly "detached".

My grammar book says, if a reception doesn't affect the speaker at all, the more neutral 受け取る should be used.

I don't think this is true. You can use もらった from a pure third-person's standpoint when you're sure that the recipient is benefited. For example, it's perfectly fine to say 昨日知らない人が小学生に道案内をしてもらっているところを見かけた ("Yesterday, I saw a stranger being given directions by an elementary school student").

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  • How acceptable is もらう in 2←1, 3←2 cases? I found someone say sentences like (あなたは私になにかを)もらいたいですか are also possible. Nov 6, 2023 at 1:47
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    @KotobaTrilyNgian (あなたは私にギターを)もらいたいですか sounds strange, and you should say ギターを欲しいですか instead. (彼はあなたにギターを)もらいたいですか sounds off for another reason, but (彼はあなたにギターを)もらいたがっていますか is fine.
    – naruto
    Nov 6, 2023 at 2:04

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