I'm struggling trying to complement sentences using させる+くれる/もらう.

In my studies it was said that させる+くれる meant "to let someone do" kind of, so the following sentence:

先生が質問をたくさん聞かせてくれた The teacher let (someone) ask lots of questions.

Now how can I specify who the teacher let to ask the questions?

If I want to say "The teacher let the students ask lots of questions.", how do I say that?

My try: 先生が学生に質問をたくさん聞かせてくれた。

thanks in advance.

  • Talking about a teacher, you might want to say くださる instead of くれる. – Angelos Feb 6 '17 at 2:12
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    I see, but the level of politeness is not exactly the point here, I just chose randomly this sentence that I had in my material. Is more about how to point the other part in the "action" happening in the sentence. That being said, the correct would be "先生が質問をたくさん聞かせてくださった"? – Felipe Chaves de Oliveira Feb 6 '17 at 2:20

Your attempt is grammatically correct. To specify the target of 「させる」, we use the 「に」 particle.

But your sentence can be improved a little more, so let me describe it.

First, 「質問を聞く」 is a little bit unnatural. We say 「質問をする」 far more often. We use 「聞く」 with concrete question phrases, for example: 「どこに居るのか聞く」 (ask where you are).

Then your sentence would be 「先生が学生に質問をたくさんさせてくれた。」

Secondly, this sentence is ambiguous because there are two patterns in which 「学生に」 modifies different verbs; one is "let" and the other is "ask."

The two possible interpretations of the sentence are:

The teacher let the students ask lots of questions.
The teacher let (someone) ask the students lots of questions.

One way to avoid this is:

The teacher gave the students a lot of opportunities to ask questions.

In this case 「学生に」 modifies 「くれた」 but not 「質問」, because we don't say 「学生に質問」 to mean "the questions to the students" but say 「学生への質問」.

  • to avoid the ambiguity of letting someone ask the students or let the students ask, can you just use を twice? 先生が学生を質問をたくさんさせてくれた ? or does that not make sense? Also is this type of ambiguity always present in a XがYにZをさせてくれた type sentence? – frei Feb 6 '17 at 4:09
  • @Frei Using 「を」 is still grammatical but 「先生が学生質問をたくさんさせてくれた」 sounds weird because two 「を」's are repeated. Also, using 「を」 instead of 「に」 here sounds more like "have X do" or "make X do" rather than "let X do," and thus it does not match 「させて**くれた**」 which implies the nuance of "let."   This type of ambiguity occurs when the verb Z takes its target with the 「に」 particle. – Faily Feely Feb 6 '17 at 4:40
  • @FailyFreely We appreciate that you went the extra step and addressed that ambiguity in your answer. It did bring up a question in my mind though which I hope you'll address. I understand why the addition of の is necessary to show the target of 質問 but I am not sure why it was also necessary to switch the に with へ. I assume 学生にの質問 is incorrect since it sounds so weird to me but is there an underlying reason for that? Thanks. – G-Cam Feb 6 '17 at 5:17
  • @G-Cam Does this link help: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/27363/… – user3856370 Feb 6 '17 at 9:21
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    Although 「質問の機会」disambiguates and is elegant and short, it also requires some inspiration to think of it. In my subjective opinion, as a general plug-in technique for a non-native speaker, further describing the object might be more reliable. In this case, further describe Z in the sentence form [XがYにZをさせてくれた] --- (先生が)(学生に)((学生から先生に)質問をさせてくれた)) or preferably (先生が)(学生に)((学生から先生への質問)をさせてくれた)) – Craig Hicks Feb 6 '17 at 22:47

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