Quoting from page 292 of A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (DBJG), entry for に, note 2:

"Any transitive verb used in the V-てあげる or V-てくれる construction can take に, if the verb does not take a human direct object."

"...ほめる, which takes a human object, cannot take に..."

The (only) example they give for the second quote is

先生は私( / *に)ほめてくださいました。
My teacher praised me.

My issue is that since the indirect object (the one receiving the favour) and direct object (the one praised) are the same (私), one would normally leave out the indirect object anyway. i.e. you wouldn't say


But DBJG seem to be saying that a transitive verb in てあげる form with a human direct object cannot take an indirect object under any circumstances.

So let's construct a sentence where the indirect object and direct object are two different people (me and Tanaka respectively). Is the following sentence allowed?

The teacher scolded Tanaka (for my sake).


2 Answers 2


先生は私に田中を叱ってくださいました is an extremely odd sentence; no Japanese native speaker would ever say this. If the verb of the sentence takes a human direct object, or if the verb doesn't normally take the particle に, one can replace the に marking the benefactor with ために in order to create a natural sentence:


彼女は俺にあの女を殺してくれた ---> Odd since the verb 殺す doesn't normally take the particle に。

This sentence can be rewritten as:

彼女は俺のためにあの女を殺してくれた。 ---> A correct sentence.

It's really not more difficult than this.


Viridian, I think you missunderstood what the dictionary said about the construction. What the book said is that, if the direct object of a verb is the same person who is receiving the benefit of the action, then it's incorrect to use に.

Ex: みちおは私をなぐさめてくれた。 "I" is the direct object of the verb, but "I" ALSO is the person receiving the action, that's why you mark it by を.

In the sentence you gave


The person who is receiving the benefit of the action (私) is DIFFERENT from the direct object of the verb (田中), therefore it's okay to mark 私 by に, although I'm not sure if this is a valid sentence in japanese, since I'm no native japanese speaker. Maybe in a context where Tanaka has been bothering you and then your teacher scolds him, I guess you could say 田中を叱ってくださいました, but I'm not sure.

  • Thanks, actually the book said nothing about the direct object and indirect object being the same. The situation where the indirect object and direct object are both human and different is precisely what I was asking about. Hope my new edit has made the matter clearer.
    – Viridian
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 7:19

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