I have reached the topic mentioned in the title and found myself struggling to understand it.

First off, my textbook explained it pretty much poorly (but I guess that's enough to understand it at least superficially). It just gave me a simple AはBにCさせてもらった。 pattern that is pretty much understandable.


What I'm struggling with is when the almighty Japanese grammar starts working at its full power known to me. What I mean by that is that when different verbs start 'sticking' to each other forming additional/different meanings. The most difficult topic-related thing for me to understand is this:


I had read a related topic and it kind of helped me a bit to understand it but then again, I can't seem to understand it very well. What I can't understand is how grammar in this sentence works and what is the actual direction of action. (I'd like to explain it a bit more detailed but I'm a bit dumb and find it difficult.)

Please, let me pin a picture of an exercise which contains Japanese sentences and put here my translations. enter image description here

Warning, English is not my 1st language and I might've mistranslated them a bit but I guess it will be understandable where correct-ish translations are (if they are there.)

  1. Buy a book, please. (For me).
  2. Let me buy a book, please (for you).
  3. Could you buy a book for me?
  4. Could you allow me to buy a book for you?
  5. Could you buy a book for me? (more politely)
  6. Can I have a permission to buy a book for you?
  7. Can I buy a book? (for you/me)
  8. I want to have a book bought for me.
  9. I want to buy a book.
  10. I want you to allow me to buy this book (for you)

Please, let me know which are the correct ones and give me some explanations using these very examples if it doesn't trouble you, of course (even if they're all correct by chance).

Many thanks in advance.

  • Disclaimer: I'm afraid that this topic might look like I'm asking you to do my homework for me but I'm learning Japanese completely by myself and meet obstacles on the way pretty much often that make me ask for help on different places. I hope It's now clear that I'm only seeking for information and a bit of understanding of grammar, not for A-grades or whatsoever.
    – Tawahachee
    Jan 9, 2020 at 21:57
  • I thought I understood this stuff. Turns out I'm clueless. I really hope someone gives a good answer to this. Jan 9, 2020 at 23:14
  • I kept looking for the info and found this site (tap-biz.jp/business/honorific/1040506#num_3920891). 「させてもらう」と「させてくれる」の違いは? section made me be completely confused about it and all I knew before about もらう and くれる turned to be wrong when we're talking about causative constructions (if I understood the written correctly).
    – Tawahachee
    Jan 9, 2020 at 23:32
  • 学生は先生に書かせてもらった is an unnatural sentence, although grammatical. What does your textbook say about its meaning?
    – naruto
    Jan 9, 2020 at 23:34
  • 1
    @naruto "a teacher allowed students to write (not with kanji, but with hiragana)"
    – Tawahachee
    Jan 9, 2020 at 23:42

1 Answer 1


First, to avoid any confusion, let's make a clear distinction between "who will read the book (who the book is for)" and "who will be pleased by the action (who the action is for)". The donatory subsidiary verbs like (-て)もらう are related to the latter.

I had my husband buy a book for my daughter (for the sake of me).

Here, the book is for the 娘 (maybe this is a children's picture book) but the action is for 私 (maybe she was busy and wanted her husband to buy a birthday present). 買う might not be a good example verb because "to buy a book for me" is ambiguous...

I know some of the following English translations are not very natural, but it reflects the structure of each original Japanese sentence. In all of the examples below, the reader of the book is not specified (i.e., the book itself can be for anyone).

  • 1. 本を買ってください。
    Please buy the book.
    (The book is for anyone including "you", "me" or "him", the action of buying is for "me".)
  • 2. 本を買わせてください。
    Please let me buy the book.
    (The book is for anyone, the action of "letting to buy" is for "me")
  • 3(a). 本を買ってもらませんか。
    Won't we have [him/her/etc] buy the book?
    (The book is for anyone, the action of "buying" is for "us")
  • 3(b). 本を買ってもらませんか。
    Can you buy the book (for the sake of me?)
    (The book is for anyone, the action of "buying" is for "me")
  • 4. 本を買わせていただけませんか。
    Would you please allow me to buy the book?
    (The politer version of 2; the action of "allowing to buy" is for "me")
  • 5. 本を買っていただけませんか。
    Would you please buy the book?
    (The book is for anyone, the action of "buying" is for "me")
  • 6. 本を買わせてもらってもいいですか。
    Is it okay if you let me buy the book?
    (A less common variant of 2)
  • 7. 本を買ってもいいですか。
    Is it okay if I bought the book?
    (More indirect and thus politer than 2, but less polite than 6)
  • 8. 本を買ってもらおうと思っている。
    I'm thinking of having [him/you/etc] buy the book.
    (The book is for anyone, the action of "buying" is for "me")
  • 9. 本を買おうと思っている。
    I'm thinking of buying the book.
  • 10. 本を買わせてもらおうと思っている。
    I'm thinking of having [you/him/her/etc] allow me to buy the book.
    (The book is for anyone, the action of "letting me buy" is for "me". 本を買わせていただこうと思っています is politer)

As for the last sentence, "I" want to buy the book, and the book itself for anyone (including "I", "my child" or even "you"). 買わせる ("to allow to buy", "to make/let buy") is what "I" want someone to do.

  • It looks like I messed up some of the translations but got the main idea kind of right somehow, although I got confused and thus couldn't understand how I actually did get it. What's more important, I couldn't explain anything to myself. Your answer made it pretty much clear now and I guess I have no questions left. A very irrefragable answer. Thank you!
    – Tawahachee
    Jan 10, 2020 at 20:58

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