413 - もらう

Lately we've been talking a lot about giving gifts.

Specifically, we had these lessons:

[NDL #399] - JLPT N5: あげる
[NDL #400] - JLPT N4: ~てあげる
[NDL #406] - JLPT N5: くれる
[NDL #407] - JLPT N4: ~てくれる

In this lesson, we'll look at not giving gifts, but receiving them:


JLPT N5: もらう (receive [from])

In general terms, the verb もらう means "to receive."

Before we look at our first example, here's a breakdown of how this verb is used in sentences.

RECIPIENT は/が GIVER から/にITEM もらう.

Imagine we want to say: "I received some Canadian maple syrup from my boss."

RECIPIENT = I = わたし
GIVER = boss = 上司 (じょうし)
ITEM = Canadian maple syrup = カナダのメープルシロップ

Now we just need to plug that into our formula:

RECIPIENT は/が
わたし

GIVER から/に
上司

ITEM
カナダのメープルシロップ

もらった.

Note that since we want to say "received," past tense, we conjugate もらう to もらった. This is the plain form, which is more casual than saying もらいました. Either option is correct; it just depends on who we're speaking with.

So now we have our sentence:

わたし上司カナダのメープルシロップもらった
わたし は じょうし に カナダ の メープルシロップ を もらった。
I received some Canadian maple syrup from my boss.
Literally: “I + は + boss + に + Canada + の + maple syrup + を + received.”

The slightly more polite version:

わたし上司カナダのメープルシロップもらいました
わたし は じょうし に カナダ の メープルシロップ を もらいました。
I received some Canadian maple syrup from my boss.
Literally: “I + は + boss + に + Canada + の + maple syrup + を + received.”

Also, though we chose to say 上司に, we also could have said 上司から. However, when the giver is NOT a person (e.g. is a company, organization, or group of some kind), then we CANNOT use に, we can only use から. We'll see an example of this later in the lesson.

The choice of わたしは instead of わたしが is a bit more difficult to explain. This lesson might help: [NDL #328] - Basics: こ、そ、あ.


When we want to show an added level of respect to the person who gave us a gift, then we can use the verb いただく instead of もらう.

So we could say this when speaking casually but simultaneously showing a high level of respect to our boss:

わたし上司カナダのメープルシロップいただいた
わたし は じょうし に カナダ の メープルシロップ を いただいた。
I received some Canadian maple syrup from my boss.
Literally: “I + は + boss + に + Canada + の + maple syrup + を + (humbly) received.”

And we could say this when speaking formally and also showing a high level of respect to our boss:

わたし上司カナダのメープルシロップいただきました
わたし は じょうし に カナダ の メープルシロップ を いただきました。
I received some Canadian maple syrup from my boss.
Literally: “I + は + boss + に + Canada + の + maple syrup + を + (humbly) received.”



This visual explanation might help:

In most cases, we can translate もらう/いただく as either "to receive" or "to get."

Several examples follow...


近所のおじちゃんもらった
きんじょ の おじちゃん に あめ を もらった。
I got a piece of candy from an old man in my neighborhood.
Literally: “neighborhood + の + man + に + (hard) candy + を + received.”
Note: This "old man" is someone that the speaker knows... so the Japanese doesn't sound as creepy as the English. Also, technically an おじちゃん is not that old, but the speaker (for example, a little girl writing in her diary) may see him as quite old.


A:
その指輪素敵ですね。彼氏もらったんですか。
その ゆびわ すてき です ね。 かれし に もらった んですか。
That’s a lovely ring. Did you get it from your boyfriend?
Literally: “that + ring + lovely + です + ね. + boyfriend + に + received + ん + です + か.”

B:
いいえ、友達もらったんです。
いいえ、 ともだち に もらった んです。
No, I got it from a friend.
Literally: “no, + friend + に + received + ん + です.”

See how we don't have "RECIPIENT は/が" or "ITEM を" in these sentences?

That is because both are obvious from context.

And what do we do when things are obvious from context? Cut them out!!

Oh, and if you're curious about this usage of ~んです, then look forward to lots of lessons that we'll have about it in the future (it's quite a difficult grammar point to master).


泥棒を捕まえて警察から感謝状もらいました
どろうぼう を つかまえて けいさつ から かんしゃじょう を もらいました。
I caught a thief, and I received a Certificate of Appreciation from the police.
Literally: “thief + を + capture (and) + police + from (=から) + certificate of appreciation + を + received.”

Since in this case 警察 is referring to the organization "the police," we have to use から. If the giver were an individual police officer (i.e. a person), then we could use either から or に.

I suspect that some native speakers mistakenly use に for organizations and companies from time to time, but since we're straight-A students, let's try to avoid doing so.


校長先生から素敵な万年筆いただいてとても喜んでいる。
あね は こうちょう せんせい から すてきな まんねんひつ を いただいて とても よろこんでいる。
My older sister received a nice fountain pen from the principal, and she’s very happy.
Literally: “older sister + は + principal + from (=から) + lovely + fountain pen + を + (humbly) received (and) + very + is being delighted.”

First, let’s all appreciate that “ten-thousand-year writing utensil” is an awesome name for a fountain pen.

Also, note that it’s rarely easy to translate 喜ぶ (よろこぶ), “to be pleased / delighted,” in to English naturally.

That's the end of the lesson! We'll have one more look at receiving gifts tomorrow, then we'll be finished with all of this gift-giving nonsense for a while. ^_^




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