I have yet to find a good source that covers this in full. But I've seen them being used in places where no giving or receiving is taking place. For example,


and another one I saw just now on this stack exchange:


From what I can see, nothing physical is given or received, and in the case of the second book, what was given/received?


5 Answers 5


あげます is to give, もらいます is to receive and くれます is also to give.

Here is the sentence formula for あげます and もらいます

For example


The teacher (giver) gave a book to Eriko (recipient)


Eriko (recipient) received a book from the teacher (giver).

For くれる, it's the same sentence formula as あげる, but used like this:

enter image description here

Here are some examples:

  1. あかつねはエリコに花をあげました。
    Akatsune gave Eriko a flower.

  2. あかつねは弟に花をくれました。
    Akatsune gave a flower to my younger brother.

  3. 母はエリコにお茶をあげました。
    My mother gave Eriko green tea.

  4. お兄さんはわたしにプレゼントをくれました。
    My older brother gave a present to me.

  5. わたしは父にコーヒーをあげました。
    I gave my father coffee.

  • 3
    The OP is asking explicitly about the situation where "nothing physical is given or received", as in "本を読んでくれる".
    – naruto
    Oct 3, 2016 at 3:54
  • Well, I'm answering the part where it says "I have yet to find a good source that covers this in full". Oct 3, 2016 at 13:57
  • Wow, very comprehensive. So that means that when a guy in an anime said "読んでくれ" it was actually really rude? (The answer to that was "I think that was a sad thing you just said there...") Nov 29, 2016 at 16:01
  • In the table for あげる and くれる, it only mentions oneself or family members, but I think that may be too specific since くれる could be used in a more general sense. See this definition from 大辞泉 for くれる: ① 他者が話し手または話し手側の人に物を与えることを受け手の側から言う。Here, 話し手側 could include someone that is not you or your family members.
    – David
    Apr 21, 2018 at 3:19
  • 1
    @TheLastSaneStudentInAnIn Take a look at japanese.stackexchange.com/q/4839/1628
    – Earthliŋ
    Apr 21, 2018 at 7:41

If you ask what is given/received, favor is a likely answer, as we say "do somebody a favor" in English. Actually, when they're used as subsidiary verbs (補助動詞), they never literally mean "give" or "receive".

Basically, any action A does to B that satisfies B's desire/intention is qualified to take one of ~てあげる/もらう/くれる according to the relation between the giver and the given in the sentence.

  • あげる: give (the subject is A), outbound (I/WEYOUOTHERS (→ OTHERS))
  • くれる: give, inbound (I/WEYOUOTHERS)
  • もらう: receive (the subject is B), no directional difference

But in actual world, be careful using ~てあげる for your own deed. It assumes your action has benefited the receiver, so you could be felt patronizing unless it's clearly profitable.


When あげる, もらう and くれる are used with the ~て form, they basically keep the same meaning as they ever do, as explained in @Silfrost_Wolf20's answer.

The only change is that there is no "object" given or received but a favour described as an action.

For instance,


写真をとってもらえませんか? (as per @chocolate comment)

asks someone if they would like to receive (from yourself) the favour of taking a photo for them, translated as

Would you want me to take a photo of you?

On the other hand,


asks someone if they would not mind giving you the favour of taking a photo, translated

Could you take a photo of me/us please?

  • Oh, I didn't know that, sorry. I have always been under the impression that using もらえませんか would imply offering your services. I guess it does make more sense to directly offer using あげましょうか rather than asking if the person wants to receive your favour... Thank you for your comment, I edited my post accordingly.
    – Nightzus
    Oct 4, 2016 at 6:34

写真をとる: To take a picture.

もらう:To receive.

写真をとってもらう: Literally: to receive the action of taking a picture.

写真をとってもらえますか? Could you take a picture for me?

The verbs もらう and all its variants (あげる, くれる, etc) can be used not only for objects but for actions.


I think he might have asked whether the person was asking for permission or whether it was about making a request.


Is that asking for permission to take a photo, or asking someone to take a photo for them?!?

I think when morau comes after a -te verb, then it becomes a request. So basically, "Can you take a photo for me?"

  • totteageru -- Can you let me take a photo for you/someone else
  • tottekureru -- Can you take a photo for me? And then give to me
  • tottemoraemasenka -- Could you let me take a photo? Simply giving the person permission to take a photo. Who will get the photo afterwards is irrelevant.


not entirely true. http://jisho.org/search/moraeru. If this is to be believed, it could also mean something like. 俺に写真を取ってもらえませんか. if the おれに is specified, then it could mean "Could you take a photo ( and give it to me) please? However, morau for example doesn't necessarily explain whether you are letting someone do something or forcing someone to do something. It simply says that you (by whatever mean) HAVE someone do something. So then it would be like "Could I have you take a photo? The person with the camera who asks the permission wants the photograph, but is not asking for permission, simply the favor of taking the photo, and if oreni is declare, then it means to ask the favor of taking the photo, then giving it to me. So morau has more to do with favors, not permission. Give me a biscuit, a favor, not a question of permission. You are already seated so you are entitled to the cookies.

So morau is more the favor of giving to me. Ageru is permission to do something for someone, and kureru is permission to do something.

君が俺に写真を取ってもらえませんか Could you take a photo (for me)
俺が写真を取ってあげますか Am I allowed to take a photo (for you)
君が俺に写真を取らせてくれませんか Would you allow me to take a photo (for me/or someone else)

There you got it.

  • 1
    tottemoraemasenka -- Could you let me take a photo? -> Hmm?? 「とってもらえませんか」 means "Could you please take (a photo)?", right? "Could you let me take a photo?" would be 「とらせてもらえませんか」or 「とらせてくれませんか」, no?
    – Chocolate
    Oct 3, 2016 at 17:11
  • not entirely true. jisho.org/search/moraeru. If this is to be believed, it could also mean something like. 俺に写真を取ってもらえませんか. if the おれに is specified, then it could mean "Could you take a photo ( and give it to me) please?
    – Grallak
    Oct 5, 2016 at 8:46
  • (君が)俺に写真をとってもらえませんか makes little to no sense, I'm afraid. (Maybe you meant to write 俺のために写真を撮ってもらえませんか...?? Are you aware that the subject of ~てもらう "receive the favor" is the speaker? 「私があなたに撮ってもらう」んです。) To say "Could you take a photo (for me)" you'd say 写真を撮ってもらえませんか or 写真を撮ってくれませんか.
    – Chocolate
    Apr 22, 2018 at 1:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .