Wild Nihongo!


てある Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Auxiliary Verb

Essential Meaning: Someone did something to X, and X is still in that state.


  • Verb て-Form + ある
    • E.g. いてある [X has been written (by someone)]
    • E.g. けてある [ X has been opened (by someone)]


  • てある indicates that (1) some unspecified agent performed an action upon object X, and (2) object X remains in that state. The agent may be unknown by the speaker or the agent may simply be irrelevant. For example, if some mystery person previously opened the window, and the window remains opened, you could say: まどけてある。[The window has been opened (by someone).] Similarly, if someone has written a character and the character remains, you could say 文字もじいてあります。[A character has been written (by someone).] In both of these cases, the person who actually performed the action is not relevant.
  • Because てある involves an agent acting upon an object, it is used with transitive verbs (i.e. verbs that take direct objects).
  • There are two other auxiliary verbs that are similar but not identical to てある: ておく and ている. The following sentences illustrate the differences:
    • E.g. まどいている。[The window is open.]. ている simply indicates that the window is open. It does not imply whether or not it was opened purposefully.
    • E.g. わたしまどけておく。[I will open the window (in advance)]. ておく conveys the idea of performing an action in advance or for future convenience. In this case, the subject may be closing the window in advance because he or she expects rain.
    • E.g. まどけてある。[The window has been opened (by someone)]. As described above, this sentence indicates that the window is in the state of being open because some unknown or unspecified person put the window into that state.

Example Sentences:

それはもうジョンにはなしてある。 [That has been told to John already (by someone).]

ものはもうってあります。[The drinks have already been purchased (by someone).]

WILD Examples:

At 0:55. the chorus begins with this line: 教科書きょうかしょいてあることだけじゃからない [One can’t understand it just by reading things that are written in textbooks]

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