I encountered this sentence in a textbook


Which one of the following would the sentence is supposed to mean?

Since [I] bought a lot of vegetables, [I] had a guy at the shop deliver the vegetables home for me.


Since [I] bought a lot of vegetables, I received home delivery.

Does the verb もらう in the form ~てもらう always mean to have someone do something for me instead of only to receive something?


3 Answers 3


The second reading is not valid. When a もらう is a full verb meaning "receive", its object (and only full verbs can take an object) must be some form of noun and followed by a を. The 家まで届けて is not any kind of noun phrase. It cannot quite work like "home delivery" does.

So the first one, where the もらう is correctly interpreted as a subsidiary verb, is the right one.

It is possible, however, for the もらう in the string ~てもらう to be a full verb describing a distinct act of receiving something, as in relatively rare cases where the object of a もらう that follows another verb is omitted. For example:

お砂糖が切れていたので、お隣に行ってもらってきました。"I was out of sugar, so I went next door and got some.")

  • Does ~てもらう (as in the example in the question) also always imply that I ask or tell somebody to do the thing? Nov 20, 2017 at 13:48

「Verb in て-form + もらう」

always means:

"to have someone (verb) for me (or whoever that is being talked about)"

It is that someone who performs the action described by the verb and the other person (I/you/he/they, etc.) is the one that receives the service/kindness.

Thus the sentence in question means what your first translation says.

If you see/hear the phrase:

「Noun + + もらう」

it means "someone receives something". If what you receive is a service instead of a thing, you cannot use 「~~をもらう」.

For example, I just returned from my lunch at a steak restaurant. When I paid at the cashier, the clerk game me a free coupon for all-you-can-drink softdrinks that I could use next time. If I were to tell someone about this, I might say:

「ドリンクバーのタダ券{けん}もらった or もらっちゃった。」

(「ドリンクバー」 means "all-you-can-drink softdrinks" and 「タダ券」, a "free coupon".)


〜てもらう means to have something done for you.

友達に質問を先生に聞いてもらいました。 (I) had a friend ask the teacher a question for me.

The meaning of receiving something is more explicit with を.

先生はプレゼントをもらいました。 The teacher received a gift.

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