In this answer, user4092 raised the aspect of volition when using giving-and-receiving verbs. Curious to learn more, I did some research and found the following article:


In this blog post, the author states (emphasis mine):

A huge thing to understand is that 「くれる」is a verb of non-volition. Although we haven’t studied the following items, for future reference, they must never be used with it: つもりだ, Volitional form, たい. だめですよ!

From this it may seem odd that there is a command form of くれる. However, 「A+くれ」 unlike the command form of a verb of volition like 貸せ, 取れ, etc., it shows not a request for the listener to obey but a request in which the listener will make the decision as to whether to comply or not.

Later on, the author also states (emphasis mine):

As you should have figured out by now, もらう, unlike くれる, is a verb of volition.

I tried looking for more information on this topic, but I couldn't find a conclusive answer to back up the statements in this blog post.

I understand that もらう represents the volition of the speaker (who is "having" somebody do something), but doesn't くれる also often represent an action that somebody else is doing ("for you") of their own will (ie. volition)?

I also don't understand the wand-waving about くれ. How could it not be a request for the listener to obey? That verb form is literally called 命令形!


In conclusion: Does this blog post correctly describe the volitional/non-volitional nature of these giving-and-receiving verbs? Is it true that くれる is a verb of non-volition? Is it true that くれ is "not a request for the listener to obey"?

2 Answers 2


Yes, くれる is a non-volitional verb. You can judge it from the fact that it doesn't have the potential form too.

As for the explanation that says "but a request in which the listener will make the decision as to whether to comply or not", I'm not really sure if it essentially differs from other imperatives besides being indirect.

  • why wouldn't くれる have a potential form? I see 呉れれる dictionaries, and I've seen the related-feeling 呉れれば too Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 3:40
  • くれれば is a conjugation of くれる, not that of the potential form. And, what dictionary is that? Anyway, that's wrong.
    – user4092
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 3:49
  • here's an example of a dictionary that the word is in: weblio.jp/content/%E3%81%8F%E3%82%8C%E3%82%8C%E3%82%8B Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 3:51
  • 日本語活用形辞書はプログラムで機械的に活用形や説明を生成しているため、不適切な項目が含まれていることもあります。ご了承くださいませ: may contains inappropriate entries because it automatically produces conjugations or explanations with an algorithm. Please understand.
    – user4092
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 3:57
  • hmm yeah that would explain it Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 4:05

According to "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar", page 13:
A volitional sentence is one in which a person expresses his will.

Verbs like もらう and いただく automatically have the speaker (私) as the subject.
So when the speaker wants to express his will he can use もらう or いただく.

I'd like some water.

But verbs like くれる or くださる, the speaker is automatically the indirect object (私に).
The subject is always someone other than the speaker.

He gave a present to me.

くれる or くださる are not volitional because there is no way for you to know what other people are thinking or wishing.
You can express your own wills and wishes but not someone else's.

The same thing happens with たい. 
たい can only be used when the subject is the speaker.
For subjects other than the speaker, you have to replace たい with たがる, because there is no way for you to know what other people are thinking or wishing.

I want to drink water.

Wrong: 彼は水を飲みたい。
Correct: 彼は水を飲みたがる。
He wants to dring water.

  • what do you think about the description of くれ? Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 3:08
  • Your explanation about たい is not really accurate. It's not necessarily wrong to apply it to the third person while it's certainly restricted in usual situations. It can happen in depiction in novels or sub clauses. In addition, たがる is synonymous to "to try to do". So, it may differ from "to want" when rephrasing it as "try to do" doesn't work.
    – user4092
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 3:44

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