Basic Japanese Grammar: 上げる (1) (ageru)


㊦ あげる (1) Verb (Group 2)
Someone gives something to a person who is not a member of the giver’s in group but whose status is about equal to that of the giver.

Meaning: Give

【Related Expression: くれる1; (もらう1)】

●Key Sentences
(ks). 私は良子に花をあげた・あげました。
I gave Yoshiko flowers.

(a). 大野さんは山本さんに本をあげた。
Ms. Ono gave Mr. Yamamoto a book.
(b). 君はアンに何をあげましたか。
What did you give to Ann?

1. あげる is one of a set of giving and receiving verbs; the meaning is ‘give’. However, あげる cannot be used when the indirect object is the first person (i.e., I or we) or a person with whom the speaker empathizes (usually a member of the speaker’s in-group). Thus, (1a) and (1b) are ungrammatical.

a. *花子は私に本をあげた。
Hanako gave me a book.
b. *花子は私のむすこ に本をあげた。
Hanako gave my son a book.

The reason for this is as follows: あげる requires the giver’s point of view or a neutral point of view when describing an event. When an event involves the first person or a person the speaker empathizes with, however, the event is normally described from that person’s point of view. Therefore, if the first person or a person the speaker empathizes with is a recipient in a あげる sentences, a viewpoint conflict arises, making the sentences ungrammatical. The grammatical sentences for (1a) and (1b) are (2a) and (2b), respectively.

(⇨ くれる1)

a. 花子は私に本をくれた。
Hanako gave me a book.
b. 花子は私のむすこに本をくれた。
Hanako gave my son a book.

2. The humble polite version of あげる is 差し上げる. Example:

I gave my teacher a book.

The degree of politeness expressed in 差し上げる is higher than that of 下さる and it いただく, which are the polite versions of くれる and もらう, respectively.

(⇨ くれる1, Related expression II)

3. When the giver is in a higher position than the recipient or the recipient is a person very close to the speaker, やる is used instead of あげる. Examples:

a . 私は弟に本をやった。
I gave my little brother a book.
b. ひろしは猫にミルクをやった。
Hiroshi gave milk to the cat.
c. Tom is the speaker’s intimate friend.
I gave a cake to Tom.



Makino, Seichi & Tsutsui, Michio. 1989. 日本語基本文法辞典. Japan: The Japan Times.