Here are two sentences with the (compound) verb 連れる. I wanted to know the nuances and how the two meanings differ.

  1. 今日は、ルーカスさんが車でアパートが探しに連れて行ってくれた。
  2. 今晩は、ルーカスさんの知人の家のパーティに連れて行ってもらった.

I wonder why the first uses くれた while the second uses もらった. Both actions seem to be directed to the speaker. Why the difference?

My interpretation:

  1. Today, Lucas took (accompanied) me by car to search for an apartment.
  2. Yesterday, Lucas took me to an acquaintance's party.

Both of which are 'me' as the receiving end of the action.

Your insights would be appreciated.

  • what's your translation of each sentence? that will help us better explain where you're getting confused. also, a bit more context might clarify things too.... though i don't feel it's essential to explain what the sentences mean – A.Ellett Aug 6 '17 at 16:34
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    you might try to answer the question: 誰がもらったか in regard to the second sentence. – A.Ellett Aug 6 '17 at 17:30
  • i should also have suggested the same thing about the first sentence: 誰がくれたか. if you can correctly answer both questions then you may have your answer. – A.Ellett Aug 6 '17 at 18:08
  • To focus on a different aspect of the question from Gabby Quattrone, there is a different nuance to してくれる and してもらう. してくれる implies a favour done for you by somebody without necessarily being asked, whereas してもらう implies that you (or whoever the subject is) had someone do something for you. E.g. 友達がおごってくれた。 My friend treated me (to a meal) VS 彼女にサンドを作ってもらった。 My girlfriend made me a sandwich/I had my girlfriend make me a sandwich – James Edwards Aug 6 '17 at 23:41
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    アパートが探しに Did you mean to type 「アパート探しに」 or 「アパートを探しに」? Can you please fix it? – Chocolate Aug 7 '17 at 1:21

I think part of the problem here stems from how we translate things from Japanese. It seems that there is a strong preference when translating from Japanese to keep the voice of the verb: ie, whether it's active or passive. I don't agree with this for learners because it can lead to confusion. Consider the two sentences


Let's assume it's my mom who read a book to me. In this situation, they're both translated the same: "She read the book to me." But what's being lost in translation here is that the subjects of the verbs are different. In the first sentence, "mom" is the subject. In the second sentence, "I" am the subject. For the second sentence, we can preserve the subject in English but we can't do so without resorting to the passive voice (see below). If we don't leave anything unspoken in the Japanese for the scenario I'm describing, then the above two sentences become:


Both of these sentences are likely to be translated as

My mom read the book to me.

And, in fact, the first sentence is quite accurately translated as

My mom read the book to me.

But regarding the second sentence, this translation misleads a bit regarding the subject. We could preserve the subject by being translated as

* I was read the book by my mom.

Granted, this is a rather awkward sounding sentence in English; also, there's nothing in the Japanese that is passive about the sentence. But as a stepping stone to grasping what's going on here, I think this approach can be rather beneficial to the language learner since otherwise the learner is left to wonder why there are two different verbs to express the very same idea--answer: because the verbs construe different subjects. That is, in Japanese, the subjects of the verbs are completely different.

So, in the sentences for your post


Though there's not enough information in the second sentence to really decide who is the recipient and who the giver of the benefit, let's just assume that the recipient of the favor in both sentences is "me". And, let's use "they" for party granting the favor (whether it's one or more individuals, may the traditionalist English grammarians not attack!). Both of these sentences could be translated as

They brought me along.

That translation works very well for the first sentence since it preserves both voice and subject. But in the second sentence, "I" am the one who receives the favor and it is "I" who is the subject. So, we could translate it a bit awkwardly as

I was brought along by them.

Or less awkwardly as

I got to go along with them

In both sentences, we preserve the subject. Unfortunately both English sentences are passive while the Japanese is active. Nevertheless, I hope this clarifies some of the differences going on here between てくれる and てもらう.

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The subject of the second sentence is not ルーカス but you, so 連れてってもらった doesn't directly mean "Lucas took me to" but something like "I could have Lucas take me to". They are two different ways to describe the same situation.

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Cutting it short to avoid unnecessary confusions, I think what you really want to know here simply boils down to the difference between ーてくれる and ーてもらう.

Forget about the 連れて行く part. Maybe it's confusing because it's a compound verb but really you have to see it as no different than any other verb conjugated in the ーて form in this case.

The difference in nuances stands simply in the fact that the sentence in てくれる conveys a sense of gratitude from the receiver towards the giver (as he received a favor). This makes sense if you think about this context: who's being taken around is grateful to the his friend for taking the trouble of driving him.

In the second sentence with ーてもらう this sense of gratitude is not expressed and the speaker simply wants to convey "neutrally" that the subject (that is not Lucas, but the speaker) was taken to the house party of a friend of Lucas. If -てくれる was used here, we could infer that this guy really wanted to go to this party and is grateful to Lucas for taking him.

That's it. I believe that any further discussion about grammatical constructions etc would diverge from your original question and just risk to create confusion.

I found a decent explanation here. It seems quite what you might want to read.


After some comment and since I realize the link I provided might not be the most authoritative source, let me paste here a screenshot from "A dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar" from the voice "kureru".

enter image description here

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    What's with the down vote? I don't think there is anything wrong with my answer so a comment would be appreciated . – Tommy Aug 8 '17 at 13:16
  • I didn't downvote you, but I've never felt there was a difference of gratitude being expressed. My Japanese skills are pretty limited to reading books and not in person dialogue, so maybe I'm missing something because of that. But, do you have anything to further back this nuance up? If you do, I think this is a terrific answer. – A.Ellett Aug 8 '17 at 18:02
  • @A.Ellett Without even searching too much: learn-japanese-adventure.com/te-ageru-morau-kureru.html Look for example at the te-kureru section: "Note: Used when a person feels grateful towards a person who has helped him/her.". I thought this is quite a basic thing. – Tommy Aug 8 '17 at 23:41
  • @Tommy That part in the explanation in the link is inaccurate. It should be "Both of kureru and morau are used when the speaker feels grateful towards a person who has helped the recipient (not necessarily the speaker himself nor it needs asking for help beforehand either). – user4092 Aug 9 '17 at 4:19
  • @user4092 Although -te+morau is also used in the sense of "receiving some benefit from someone/someone's action" I have never read it conveys the sense of receiving a favor and expressing gratitude towards the giver as -te+kureru. If you could provide more reference I would appreciate it. I also feel this difference in daily life, and although I might have always gotten it wrong, I don't think I have in this case. – Tommy Aug 9 '17 at 4:39

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