ある

ある Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Group 1 Verb

Essential Meaning: To be / To exist / To have (an inanimate object)

Construction: 

  • Noun + が + [ある / ない]
    • E.g. ほんがある [There is a book]
    • E.g. ほんがない [There is no book]
  • Noun + に + [ある / ない]
    • E.g. コロラドしゅうにある [X is in the State of Colorado.]
    • E.g. コロラドしゅうにありません [X is not in the State of Colorado.]

Notes:

  • ある is an existential verb that refers to the existence of inanimate things. ある and いる (the equivalent verb for animate things) are analogous to the English verb “To be“. The expression X がある essentially means “There is X” or “There are X“.
    • E.g. テレビがある。[There is a TV.]
  • When a sentence emphasizes the existence of something with ある or いる, the thing that exists is marked by the particle.
    • E.g. *テレビはある。[There is a TV.] In this case, the existence of the TV is under focus, so the TV should be marked by.
  • The negative informal form of ある is ない.
    • E.g. テレビがない。[There is no TV.]
  • ある is often used to express the location where some inanimate object exists. This type of sentence may use the object as the topic (i.e. “As for OBJECT, it is in LOCATION“), or it may take the location as the topic (i.e. “As for LOCATION, there is OBJECT“). Note that the particle に (Existence) is used to mark the location where the inanimate object exists.
    • E.g. Object as the topic: エッフェルとうはパリにある。[The Eiffel Tower is in Paris.] It is acceptable to use here because the location of the Eiffel Tower is under focus (as opposed to the existence of the Eiffel Tower).
    • E.g. Location of existence as the topic: このまちには大学だいがくみっつある。[In this town, there are three universities.]
  • ある sometimes conveys a possessive relationship between two inanimate things. Whether or not ある should be interpreted as indicating location of existence or possession ultimately depends on context.
    • E.g. このくるまにはカーステレオがある。[This car has a stereo.] The connotation of this sentence is that the car has / possesses a stereo rather than expressing the mere fact that a stereo exists inside the car.
  • Although ある is usually used with inanimate objects, it is acceptable to use ある to refer possessively to people in one’s inner circle (i.e. family and friends).
    • E.g. 子供こども三人さんにんあります。[I have three children.]
  • っている is a similar expression that conveys possession. The difference between ある and っている is that っている is only acceptable when the “possessor” is animate and the “possessed” is inanimate. The possessor may be a body of animate individuals such as a country or an institution.
    • E.g. ジョンはいいくるまっている。[John has a good car.]. This sentence is acceptable because the possessor (John) is animate and the possessed object (car) is inanimate.
    • E.g. *このくるまはクーラーをっている。[This car has a cooler.] This sentence is UNGRAMMATICAL because both the possessor (car) and the possessed object (cooler) are inanimate.
    • E.g. この大学だいがくはいい図書館としょかんっている。[This university has a good library.] This sentence is acceptable because the possessor (university) is comprised of a body of animate individuals.

Example Sentences:

このまちには大学だいがくみっつあります。[In this town, there are three universities.]

デトロイトはミシガンしゅうにあります。 [Detroit is in the State of Michigan.]

和田わださんのうちにはクーラーがない。[There is no AC in Mr. Wada’s house.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line from 0:30: 明日あしたある明日あしたある明日あしたある [There’s always tomorrow, there’s always tomorrow, there’s always tomorrow!]

***YouTube videos may be region-locked depending on your country of origin. If you experience issues, please try using a VPN set to a United States IP address.***