ある Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Group 1 Verb
Essential Meaning: To be / To exist / To have (an inanimate object)
- Noun + が + [ある / ない]
- E.g. 本がある [There is a book]
- E.g. 本がない [There is no book]
- Noun + に + [ある / ない]
- E.g. コロラド州にある [X is in the State of Colorado.]
- E.g. コロラド州にありません [X is not in the State of Colorado.]
- 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 が 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 が.
- 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: エッフェル塔はパリにある。[The Eiffel Tower is in Paris.] It is acceptable to use は 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: この町には大学が三つある。[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. この車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. 子供が三人あります。[I have three children.]
- 持っている is a similar expression that conveys possession. The difference between ある and 持っている is that 持っている 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. ジョンはいい車を持っている。[John has a good car.]. This sentence is acceptable because the possessor (John) is animate and the possessed object (car) is inanimate.
- E.g. *この車はクーラーを持っている。[This car has a cooler.] This sentence is UNGRAMMATICAL because both the possessor (car) and the possessed object (cooler) are inanimate.
- E.g. この大学はいい図書館を持っている。[This university has a good library.] This sentence is acceptable because the possessor (university) is comprised of a body of animate individuals.
この町には大学が三つあります。[In this town, there are three universities.]
デトロイトはミシガン州にあります。 [Detroit is in the State of Michigan.]
和田さんのうちにはクーラーがない。[There is no AC in Mr. Wada’s house.]
***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.***