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From what I've understood, we use くれる to refer to the receiver and あげる to refer to the giver, both conveying the meaning to give. From guidetojapanese.org, the author interchanges あげた with くれた and, although the given translation is the same, the author points out that the meaning it conveys differ as one emphasizes the giver's point of the view and the other the receiver's point of view.

Sentence A:

友達が父にいいことを教えてあげた。

Given translation:

Friend gave the favor of teaching something good to my dad.

Given explanation:

(looking at it from the friend's point of view)

Sentence B:

友達が父にいいことを教えてくれた。

Given translation:

Friend gave favor of teaching something good to my dad.

Given explanation:

(looking at it from the dad's point of view)

Assuming it's correct, when solving my book excercises, I'm given a sentence to complete and I have two options to choose from, namely, あげました and くれました as follows:

山田さんは田中さんに本を(あげました、くれました)。

From the explanation above, both seem to be correct. However, my book answer is あげました. Why not both?

I'm also given an explation for when to use くれる by my book, which I don't understand.

img1

I interpret it as: we use くれる if I'm the receiver or part of the receiver's in-group. This would explain why the book answer is あげました. Please correct me If my interpretation is wrong. I'm not a native english speaker and I find the explanation rather wordy.

For あげる,

img2

To sum up, my questions are:

  • Given sentence A and B, does this mean sometimes we can use either あげた or くれた and why?
  • Do we use くれる when I'm the receiver or part of the receiver's in-group?
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From wp.stolaf.edu, the verb we use, くれる or あげる, depends on the direction of the transaction and who carries out the transaction. Note that the giving takes places in the inward direction. To illustrate this, consider the following:

img1

Recovered from wasabi-jpn.com

Each person has an in-group and an out-group, which is encircled in the illustration. Your mother, naturally, is part of your in-group, so you share the same circle. Strangers, however, do not.

If the transaction is in the direction of your in-group, then you use くれる. If the transaction is in the direction of your out-group, then you use あげる. For example: 山田さんは私の妹に花をくれました. We use くれる because Mr. Yamada gave a flower to your little sister, so the transaction goes towards your in-group.

Now consider this sentence: 叔父は母に花をくれました. This may be a little confusing at first because both your uncle and mother are part of your in-group, your family, but your mother, naturally, is closer to you than your uncle, so you choose くれました. Think of it this way: you, your mother and uncle share the same in-group, but you and your mother share another in-group, a mother-son bond.

Answering your first question: you can't interchange them. Take a look at your examples: 友達が父にいいことを教えてあげた and 友達が父にいいことを教えてくれた. In both sentences you have that the people involved, your father and friend, share the same in-group, but you and your father share an in-group of its own, a father-son bond, so the transaction takes places towards your in-group. Hence we use くれました and not あげました.

Answering your second question, considering the sentence: 山田さんは田中さんに本をあげました. Note the suffix さん. This creates a distance between the speaker and the people involved, so the transaction is taking place outside your in-group. Hence, we use あげる.

Rephrasing your book explanation:

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Recovered from Practice Makes Perfect Complete Japanese Grammar, page 58.

Basically, you have two cases for when to use くれる:

  1. If the giver is part of the speaker's out-group, the receiver must be the speaker or is a member of the speaker's in-group.
  2. If the giver is part of the speaker's in-group, the receiver must be the speaker or is a member of the speaker's in-group, who is closer to the speaker than the giver.

Because of 2, the verb used in 叔父は母に花をくれました is くれる. The speaker is naturally closer to their mother, who is the receiver, being marked by the particle に. Hence, we use くれる.

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