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I read this question about the sentence:

野菜をたくさん買ったので、店の人に家まで届けてもらいました。

Without thinking too hard I translated this as

a) Because I bought a lot of vegetables the shop keeper delivered them for me.

I then read the rest of the OPs question and the answers, where the translation was

b) ....I had the shopkeeper deliver them.

To me, this has a different nuance. Sentence b) requires me to ask for a service with the expectation that I will receive the service. Sentence a) is more passive. The shopkeeper may do the service as a favour. Or maybe it's by 5 veg and get free delivery. In any case sentence a) does not require me to request a service.

Are both a) and b) equally valid translations? If so how can the Japanese be re-phrased to make a distinction?

  • Thanks for asking this question. I was wondering about this as well. – Petch Puttichai Nov 21 '17 at 4:56
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「野菜{やさい}をたくさん買{か}ったので、店{みせ}の人{ひと}に家{いえ}まで届{とど}けてもらいました。」

Before talking about translations, I would like to discuss what we know and do not know from this sentence without further context or explanation regarding this particular store/market.

We know that:

1) the speaker bought lots of vegetables.

2) it is someone from the store that delivered the vegetables to the speaker's place/home. It is that someone who 届けた.

3) it is the speaker who received that service. It is the speaker who 届けてもらった.

4) the subject of the entire sentence is the unmentioned speaker. It is s/he who both 買った and 届けてもらった.

We do not know:

1) if the speaker expressly requested a delivery. It might be a routine service for the regular customers at this store.

Now, let us examine the two translations you listed.

a) Because I bought a lot of vegetables the shop keeper delivered them for me.

b) ....I had the shopkeeper deliver them.

I actually think both are valid translations in the sense that both express the same general idea as to what happened and who did what.

Does 「~~てもらう」 imply that a service has been requested?

No, it does not necessarily. The action-performer may offer one of his own will.

The subject of the original sentence is surely the unmentioned "I" while it is "the shop keeper" for the second half in your TL (a). I call both valid because I know it can be quite wordy/awkward to translate the "~~してもらう" construct into English by using the receiver of the service as the subject as in "I graciously received the kind service of having my vegetables delivered to my door by the market personnel.".

As long as you uderstand the sentence structure and the meaning of the original, it should be fine because valid translations can come in very different forms between two linguistically-unrelated languages like Japanese and English.

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In a 〜てもらう construction, the person who does the receiving must be the subject.

If you want the giver to be the subject (and the giver is not you or someone in your group), you have to say 〜てくれる (or an equivalent).

(If the giver is you or someone in your group, you would use 〜て上げる or an equivalent.)


So technically your translation isn't accurate, because you made the shopkeeper the subject, whereas in the Japanese he couldn't have been.

But like l'électeur said, as long as you know the difference you can translate it in a way that sounds natural.

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