I know we use に to indicate from whom we receive the favor/thing. I don't see any common sense for that. Naturally, I would use から instead because に expresses a direction "to/toward" not "from".

=> Could you explain to me the root cause?

  • 友達お菓子をもらった。 => I received candies from my friend.
  • 友達お菓子をあげた。 => I gave candies to my friend.

2 Answers 2


It's basically a grammatical reason, not a meaning reason.

Japanese uses three markers for marking core arguments in a clause:

  • が marks the subject (or rather, a subject that isn't also a topic; but let's ignore that for this answer)

  • を marks the object

  • に marks everything else

For the most part, when you have three core arguments, the one that isn't a subject or object is usually a recipient. Since に also (quite separately) marks a destination or direction, that seems like a normal extension of meaning - from 'direction of moving' to 'direction of giving'.

However, there are some clear cases where it marks things that aren't recipients. Causatives are a good example: you end up with three core arguments (subject, object and overall causer), and the leftover third one is marked with に - even though that doesn't make sense if you're thinking of it as a direction marker. 貰う is a similar case: it takes the recipient as subject and the gift as object, and the leftover core argument - the giver - is marked with に.

To summarise, because 貰う has three core arguments and already specifies that the recipient is the subject, the leftover giver has to be marked with the 'leftover core argument marker', which is に.

  • I see, in that case my assumption that に is the destination is not always true.
    – None
    Dec 3, 2018 at 7:25
  • @Alexis_FR_JP Exactly. It often is, and it always is when it isn't a core argument, but here it's not.
    – Sjiveru
    Dec 3, 2018 at 7:26
  • Perfect, I'll read more about this particle. Thanks :)
    – None
    Dec 3, 2018 at 7:32

Particle に indicates point where effect of action/deed reaches. It is not for indicating direction. Particle へ is the one that indicates direction.

For example, 道路の向こう側に渡る is telling that 道路の向こう側 is the point where action/deed of 渡る reaches at last. Action/deed of 渡る is intended to reach that point instead of that direction.

Particle に is also used to indicate indirect object for transitive verb which takes direct and indirect objects. It is because of the above said character of に, i.e. indicating point where effect of action/deed reaches.

In the example sentence of 私は兄にボールを投げた, 兄 is indirect object and ボール is direct object for verb 投げた. Particle に is telling that action of 投げた will bring ボール to reach 兄.

When this active voice sentence is converted to passive voice, 兄は私にボールを投げられた will come out. Verb 投げられた takes direct and indirect objects which are still supported by same particles as before.

According to my opinion, 私 and 兄 are at terminal position for movement of ボール. In case of active voice, ボール as effect of action 投げた moved to the position of 兄, and if we see that movement from opposite side, action 投げられた will take 私 as reaching point.
I know wording "reaching point" sounds funny but concept seems something like this, if we watch movement of ボール between two terminal positions from opposite view point.

Now, we try to apply above concept.

A. 友達にお菓子をもらった。
B. 友達にお菓子をあげた。

I believe that you understand action あげる and action もらう shows opposite direction for transfer of お菓子.


They are in the relation of active voice and passive voice essentially, even though not in standard format. It is because あげる cannot be changed to passive voice by adding れる/られる.

I hope you can accept 友達にお菓子をもらった finally by now.

Certainly you can use から which indicates starting point.
Using から is for emphasizing starting point purpose instead of using に.


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