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In "The structure of the Japanese language", Susumo Kuno uses the example (p. 130)

John wa sensei ni kono hon o {moratta / itadaita}.

Both have a problem:

  • itadaku should be used only in the first person,
  • morau "would result in sentences expressing a lack of proper respect for the teacher".

itadaku is "used often because there is no better way of expressing the intended meaning"

Is there really no third option?

  • moraimashita? ... wish I could help... keigo and the different levels of respect in Japanese is one of my worst stumbling blocks... :( – ericfromabeno Feb 3 at 5:08
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    moraimashita would be more about respect to the interlocutor than for sensei. – Mathieu Bouville Feb 3 at 6:08
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いただく is also used in the second and third person when the subject wants to respect the indirect object by humbling the subject. For example, あなたは(彼は)、先生から本をいただいた.

もらう is plain, もらいます is polite, いただく is the humble form of もらう. If you use いただく, you can show your respect to someone by humbling yourself.

This would help you. http://web.ydu.edu.tw/~uchiyama/1h93fy/jyujyu.html

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    Presumably because the subject is a third person, so using 謙譲語 could be seen as humbling them (as opposed to yourself) rather than just respecting the indirect object (先生). – Darius Jahandarie Feb 3 at 13:56
  • @Darius Jahandarie I think if the speaker needs to respect the indirect object (先生), the speaker needs to humble the subject (John). – Yuuichi Tam Feb 3 at 14:59
  • Right. And that’s the point of the question. If you need to respect 先生 without disrespecting John, the provided sentence is “grammatically inaccurate”. – Darius Jahandarie Feb 3 at 15:08

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