I received a query from a friend in Ehime today, concerning the use of くれる、あげる and もらう．After I had typed up a brief reply I realised it may be useful to others and in the spirit of environmental friendliness I have recycled it here (For the consumate explanation I refer readers to Jay Rubin's Making Sense of Japanese).
I am taking the two week intensive course at EPIC in Matsuyama and yesterday we covered あげる、もらう and くれる. I understand the uses of these with nouns, for example AさんはBさんにプレゼントをあげました、BさんはAさんにプレゼントをもらいました。But, when you use these verbs with other verbs, what is the difference from just using the other verb on its own? For example, AさんはBさんにおかねをかしてあげました. Why would you say this as opposed to simply AさんはBさんにおかねをかしました？How is the nuance different? Is it more polite or something? And is it weird that I keep wanting to use the particle から as opposed to に when talking about the person FROM whom the noun/verb was given?!
あげる、もらう and くれる
When used with just nouns: they refer to the actual physical giving/receiving of objects. When used with verbs: they refer to doing something for someone, or someone doing something for you.
Look at these examples:
本をくれた： (somebody) gave me a book
電話してくれた (somebody) called me on the phone
Your examples seem to be from a textbook - fine for explaining stuff but not really going into the why/usage area. Normally you wouldn't be saying Aさん and Bさん - they would be obvious from the circumstances. But then if you only said かしました you haven't said who is lending to whom. If I am talking to you about someone else and just say かしました it isn't immediately clear who lent to whom, but if I say かしてあげました you know instantly that I did the lending, because only I could あげる - if I said かしてくれました you know the other person lent me money.
And for に and から just remember that either can be used when there is a physical object being received:
But when you receive the benefit of an action you can only mark the giver with に：
While we're on the topic - try not to use あげる too much: with friends it is OK, but with someone older etc it comes across as something like "Shall I do this wonderful thing for you?" Instead, use ~ましょう, e.g. an old lady has a heavy suitcase and wants to get up the stairs - 手伝いましょうか？ is better because it just says "Can I give you a hand?" while 手伝ってあげましょうか is like saying "Shall I do you the favour of carrying your bag up the heavy steps, thus causing you to be in my debt and feel beholden to me for the rest of your life or at least until I have moved out of sight."
Also, くれる is used when you are speaking in the first person right? Like, you can only use this when talking about receiving something towards yourself?! BUT, you could also use もらう in this instance and it would be ok? You just can't use くれる in the same way as もらう when you are talking about other people? I just wanted to check I've understood this correctly.
I like to think of it like this:
してくれる＝do something for me
してもらう=have someone do something for me
電話してくれた： someone called me
電話してもらった： I had someone call (somewhere) for me
くれる refers more to the giving aspect (the other person is giving you something). もらう refers to the receiving aspect (you receive something). もらう also carries the implication that you made some kind of request. Both constructions could refer to exactly the same situation - it just depends on what you are emphasising. Look at these examples in English:
He called me yesterday.
I got a call from him yesterday.
And yes, もらう has a wider application that くれる。If I use くれる then someone is doing something for ME and me only. Think of くれる as a boomerang - it always comes back to you.*
もらう is more like a frisbee - anyone can catch it, because もらう can refer to an action being done for ME OR SOMEONE ELSE (usually someone in my in group but at the very least someone I empathise with).
Aさんからもらった：I got (something) from A
BくんはAさんからもらった：B got (something) from A where B is a friend, family etc
And bonus lesson - くださる is the polite version of くれる、and いただく is the polite version of もらう、so the same principles apply
Hope this helps
*Think of the razor sharp boomerang in Mad Max 2 which slices off the fingers of anyone who tries to intercept it, always returning to its rightful owner, the Feral Kid.