So I stumbled upon the following sentence:


I was having a problem with translating it because of the parsing, but now I kinda get it.

What I could translate was "Especially, I have a question to people teaching Japanese to non-Japanese people", But some people in the chat said it would be

"especially I would like to ask people who are being taught Japanese by a non-Japanese person"

Now, for it to be being taught, shouldn't I use the passive form of もらう? like

日本人以外の人に日本語を教えてもらわれている方 ??

Besides that, I have 2 more questions:

1 - Can I interchangeably use もらう and くれる? Yes or no? and why?

(I feel like I can because there is no explicit topic, but i'm concerned that using くれる would flip the meaning from "people teaching Japanese to non-Japanese people" to "non-Japanese people teaching Japanese to people")

2 - Why would one use 方(kata) here? instead of 人

Thanks in advance!!!

  • 2
    The people in the chat are correct. Aに教えてもらう means 'So-and-so recieves the benefit of being taught by A'. There is no need to change the conjugation of もらう to passive form; and if you do, it's strange. It's easy to get confused because the English reading 'X was taught by Y' suggests the main verb in the Japanese should also be passive, but that doesn't apply when もらう is already showing who receives the benefit of the verb (and from whom one receives it). Changing もらう to くれる doesn't work. くれる is for benefit towards me or my in-group. 方 is used because it's more polite.
    – Robert
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:04
  • 1
    日本語を教えてもらわれてる方 only looks a honorific verb instead of passive.
    – user4092
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 21:53
  • @user4092 why do you say so? I thought like this "言う>言われてる" so, "もらう>もらわれてる" Commented May 19, 2017 at 15:02
  • That's only reasonable interpretation in this context.
    – user4092
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 18:14
  • @user4092 what is the main reason for that? I don't get it, sorry Commented May 19, 2017 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


To answer your first question:

Giving and receiving verbs can be quite tricky. Let's work through it 少しずつ. If the verb is もらう, then the subject is receiving something (or a verb in this case) from the giver as in

[subject(receiver)][giver][verb] ~てもらう

If we use くれる the roles swap and the idea of the sentence changes too. Instead we would say that the subject is the giver and the indirect object (marked with に) is the receiver.


Let's use 教える. It works well with these verbs.


I was taught by a Japanese person


A Japanese person taught me.

If you were to put もらう into the passive form it would really only be used for the thing that was received (the direct object). In that case the receiver and the received would swap positions.


A cake was received by him

But this is really convoluted and rarely used. A better usage for the passive form of もらう is as a descriptive relative clause.


The cake that was received.

In the case with this sentence we are using a relative clause but in the active voice (not passive).


A person who was taught (A person who received the action of being taught).

To answer the second question:

方 is used to show honor and respect to the person in question. 人 can be used just as well but does not show any level of respect. 者 can also be used in that place but has a sense of inferiority (one can use it for themselves to show respect for the listener, just like a humble verb).

In conclusion

日本人以外の人 (the giver) 日本語を教えてもらっている (the receiver)


"People who are taught by non-Japanese people"

just as those on the chat said.

  • Thanks a lot, I will read the answer over and over to make sense in my mind haha Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:15
  • 僕はそのことだって言われた。(I was told that) 僕はそのことを言ってもらった。(I had that said to me). Is this right for you? Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:26
  • Yes I think you have the right idea. These can be hard to translate directly into English. The second sentence is better said in English as "Someone (kindly) told me " but that's not a very literal translation. You can think of it as "I received the action of someone saying that for me".
    – tcallred
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:31
  • Thanks, I think I get it now. It will take a while to it become natural for me, but it is always like this when learning Japanese, at least for me Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:59

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