For things that are done by someone else, but not directed to oneself, can くれる be used? For example:

そう思ってくれてよかった - It's good that you think that way (but the action isn't done for my sake, for whose/what sake it is, is irrelevant)

If くれる sounds unnatural here, what is the proper word?


Yes, くれる can be used in situations where you are in some way a beneficiary of another person's action, whether or not that person had your interests at heart when they acted in that particular manner.

For example, suppose that you made some benign remark about someone, but later you realize it could be taken as an insult -- but in the end, it turns out that person simply thought it was a compliment, as you had intended. Upon hearing the relieving news, you might well say, そう思ってくれてよかった. The use of くれる here is felicitous even if the you do not think the other person took an effort to interpret your remark charitably for your sake.

More tellingly, it can be used in cases where actions are involved that the other person most certainly did not intend to benefit the speaker and probably regrets having done very much. In a post-match interview, referring to a mistake committed by the opponent that gave her an advantage, a tennis player (or player of any sort of game) might say something like 「相手がミスしてくれて助かりました」. The くれる here of course doesn't indicate that the speaker thinks the opponent intentionally made the mistake as a favor for the speaker (though conceivably there can be situations where that is true).

And we also use it to talk about events and circumstances that are favorable to us (where no person is doing anything), rather than another person's action, such as 「晴れてくれて良かった」「行きたくなかったから、旅行が中止になってくれて良かった」.

So I guess my point is that there are many uses of くれる where whether or not the action is done intentionally for the speaker's (or someone from whose perspective the speaker is speaking's) sake is irrelevant.

  • 1
    I had to look up what "felicitous" means... Is my English skills deteriorating? :-) – Sweeper May 13 '20 at 20:27

According to "A Dictionary Of Basic Japanese Grammar" (p217), the meaning of Vてくれる explicitly contains the concept of a favor being done for the first person (or someone in the in-group of the first person). Using this grammar is conditional on it being expressed from the viewpoint of the receiver of the favor. Therefore, your sentence only makes sense if the speaker is implying that the other person thinking that way is in some way conveying a benefit to the speaker. If you are trying to express the idea "it's good that you think that way (for your own sake)", you would have to rephrase it in a way which makes it clear that the perceived advantage is being conveyed on the other person, and not the speaker.

For constructions which express an action that is not done for 'my' sake, you can use てあげる instead. An example they use is 田中さんはスミスさんに本を貸してあげた。- in this sentence, the speaker's viewpoint is not relevant.

  • Can てくれる be used when the speaker is the person who is doing the thing for his own sake and receiving it as well. Eg in a situation where the speaker is doing an act for the sake of performing an activity (but inside he does not want to do that act) E.g. 私は自分の仕事に本を買ってくれる ( i am buying this book for my job) – APK May 12 '20 at 13:29
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    No. ~てくれる is reserved only for when a favor is conveyed externally by someone other than the speaker. If the action is for your own sake, you can use constructions like のために, ように, etc. – kandyman May 12 '20 at 13:49
  • What if the action is beneficial for the speaker, but the one doing the action did not specifically do it for the speaker? Will くれる be ok? – Newbie May 13 '20 at 14:45
  • The answer by goldbrick addresses situations where you can still use てくれる even if the benefit was not specifically intended (although it is a slightly ironic use in that case). It can in certain circumstances be used without a person explicitly carrying out an action, although again I would stress that such a use is an ironic use rather than the standard use. – kandyman May 13 '20 at 14:53

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