Lesson 51
Te Form + ageru

In Lesson 50 we learned how kudasai means "to give (down to me)." Ageru also means "to give," but it means "to raise; to give (up to someone)," putting the receiver on a higher level than the giver. Let's set aside the Te Form for a minute and confirm the kudasai / ageru relationship with these simple examples:

  • Sono pen o kudasai. (Please give me that pen.)
  • Kono pen o agemasu. (I'll give you this pen.)
As you can see, kudasai and ageru (made polite here with the Base 2 + masu ending) both work with a noun (a pen) as "give," but kudasai is used with "me" and brings the giving direction down, showing a "humbler" position, while ageru is used with "you" to take the giving direction up, to show respect.

Now, it works the same way with verbs in Te Form, showing that someone is going to do something for someone else. If you ask someone to do something for you, you use the Te Form + kudasai, as covered in the last lesson, but when you want to state that you'll do something for someone, you use the Te Form + ageru:

  • Matte ageru. (I'll wait for you.)
  • Ato de denwa shite ageru. (I'll call you later.)
  • Tabetakunakereba, tabete ageru. (If you don't want to eat it, I'll eat it for you.)
In Japanese, verbs and their conjugations are truly 80% of the language, as these examples show. The ability to omit understood subjects and objects not only helps to make this possible, it's a great convenience besides. Remember to use agemasu in situations where politeness is needed.

Finally, as a general rule, use agete -- the Te Form of ageru with nothing attached -- when asking someone to do something for someone else:

  • Bob ni pen o kashite agete. (Lend Bob your pen.)
  • Shizuka no kutsu no himo o musunde agete. (Tie Shizuka's shoelaces.)
There are many more verbs and combinations that express "giving / doing for" in Japanese, which are chosen depending on the situation, the position of the giver or receiver, and, in cases where there's a third person, whether or not he or she is in hearing range. However, kudasai and ageru are the most basic and useful of them all, and will work nicely in most cases.

Word Check

sono: that
kono: this
ato de: later
kutsu: shoe(s)
himo: rope, string, laces
musubu: to tie; to connect

(Verbs are shown in their plain form.)

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