How to use いる+ある ( = iru + aru)

aru

「おかわりある?

= Okawari aru?

“May I have seconds?” / Do you have seconds for me?

もうない! 

= Mou nai!

= “No more food left!”

iru

マギー先生、彼氏いる?」 

= Maggie sensei, kareshi iru?

“Miss Maggie, do you have a boyfriend?”

まだいない… 

= Mada inai…

“Not yet….”

Hello,everyone! In response to a request from Z-san, I will make a lesson about いる&ある  ( = iru + aru).

<Basic grammar>

Basically「いる」( = iru) and「ある」( = aru) are both verbs used to indicate that something exists or “is”in Japanese. We use them when we want to say:

there is/are” . While 「いる」( = iru) is for people or animal (=living creatures), we use 「ある」( = aru) for other things, such as things, events, concepts, etc.

:mm: 「いる」( = iru)

:rrrr: (politer)「います」( = imasu) 「いらっしゃる」( = irassharu)

:u: (negative forms)

「いない」( = inai)

:rrrr:(politer)「いません」( = imasen) 「いらっしゃいません」( = irasshaimasen. )

:ee: 「ある」( = aru)

:rrrr:(politer)「あります」( = arimasu)

:u:negative forms)

「ない( = nai)

:rrrr: 「ないです。」( = naidesu) or「ありません」( = arimasen)

See the following examples:

Ex. あの角にコンビニがあります

= Ano kado ni konbini ga arimasu.

There is a convenience store on the corner.

Ex. 図書館には高校生が一杯いる

 = Toshokan niwa koukousei ga ippai iru.

There are lots of high school students in the library.

Ex. 今、どこにいるの?

= Ima doko ni iruno?

Where are you now?

Ex. 昨日、ここで事故がありました。

= Kinou koko de jiko ga arimashita.

There was an accident here yesterday.

Also iru and aru have a meaning of “to have” “to own

Ex. 彼には家庭があります。

= Kare niwa katei ga arimasu.

He has a family.

Ex. いい考えがあります。

  = Ii kangae ga arimasu.

I have a good idea.

Ex. 私には弟が二人います。

 = Watashi niwa otouto ga futari imasu.

I have two brothers.

Let’s check the pictures above!

Ex. 「おかわりある?

= Okawari aru? 

means “May I have seconds?” but its original meaning is “Is there a second serving for me?” (or Do you have seconds for me?)

もうない! 

= Mou nai!

“No there isn’t any!”

Ex.マギー先生、彼氏いる?

 = Maggie sensei, kareshi iru?

“Miss Maggie, do you have a boyfriend?”

まだいない… 

= Mada inai… 

Note : もう( = mou) already / まだ( = mada) yet,still

:rrrr: 漢字 ( = kanji)

There are kanji for いる and ある.

:ee: いる  ( = iru) → 居る

: いる/きょ = iru/kyo

Ex. 居留守  ( = irusu) pretend not to be at home

Ex. 住居  ( = juukyo) residence

:jjj: ある( = aru ) →有る or 在る

 ある/あり/ゆう = aru/ari/yuu

Ex. 有限  ( = yuugen) finite

Ex. 有償  ( = yuushou)fare-paying

 ある/ざい = aru/zai

Ex. 存在  ( = sonzai) existence

:i: Now let me refer to the questions from Z-san:

1) The dictionary says that in the sense of ‘to be/exist’, both iru and aru are usually written using kana, but in the sense of ‘to have’, it doesn’t say this, suggesting that in that sense, you do use the kanji. Is this true?

We tend to use kana for “aru” and “iru” not just in the sense of “to be/exist” but also in the sense of “to have” in modern Japanese. Japanese government tutorials for public documents also suggest that we should use kana, いるある, instead of using kanji,  居(る)/有(る)、在(る), in the newspaper, public documents or text books along with many other kanji such as   ( = koto )、出来(る)  ( = dekiru)、etc.

For example,

マギーには才能が有ります。/あります。

= Maggie niwa sainou ga arimasu.

Maggie has talent.

You can see them both in kana and kanji but using kana is more common than kanji.

Try to Google 才能がある and 才能が有る and compare the number of hit. You will get more hits with ある

2) The dictionary lists two kanji for ‘aru’, 在る and 有る. Both are listed as meaning the same thing and being roughly equally frequent in use. When do you use one or the other, and why?

You are right. They are both listed as in the same meaning in many dictionaries. They originally came from Chinese where there was a clear difference between them but the difference has become more blurred in Japan.

Although we tend to avoid using kanji for “aru” nowadays as I mentioned above, if we have to use kanji, we would distinguish them as in the following cases.

I would say we use to indicate the location of a building, facility, etc. Also we use it when we want to emphasize the meaning of its existence not just buildings but also resorces, nature, group, statues, meaning or essence of things.

 = yamaga aru

There is a mountain.

東京に本社が

 = Toukyou ni honsha ga aru

The Head Quarters is in Tokyo.

国が

 = kuni ga aru

to exist a country

基地が在る

= kichi ga aru

=There is a base

And we would use when we refer to have or posses things, ideas, talents, will, aura, etc. “

車が有る 

 = kuruma ga aru

There is a car / to own a car.

お金が

= okane ga aru

to have money / there is money

人気が

 = ninki ga aru  

to have popularity (to be popular)

手に職が

= teni shoku ga aru

to have skills

So I hope I have answered your questions,Z-san :D


frenchbulldog マギー先生より  ( = Maggie sensei yori)  From Maggie-sensei

おかわりがもうないみたいだから、今日のレッスンはここまでね。皆ももし何か”こんなレッスン作って!”っていうリクエストがあったら教えてね。”気が向いたら!?”作るから。

 = Okawari ga mou nai mitai dakara kyou no ressun wa koko made ne. Mina mo moshi nanka ”konna ressun tsukutte”tte iu rikuesto ga attara oshiete ne. “Ki ga muitara!?” tsukuru kara.

Since you’re not giving me seconds, I’ll wrap up today’s lesson. If you want me to make a lesson for certain topics, please let me know. I will work on it “if I feel like it!”.



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47 Comments

  1. Hi Maggie,
    a further query on iru/aru.
    When talking of bacteria, viruses, or bugs/insects, etc., which do I use? I know that plants are considered ‘inanimate’ because they don’t move, but germs or creepy-crawlies?
    Many, many thanks.

    1. @Ted
      Interesting questions. As long as they are alive, technically you use いる
      微生物(biseibutsu) a microbe
      虫 (mushi) insects/bugs
      →いる
      However, you sometimes use ある (in this case “to exist”) for
      バクテリア (vacteria)
      ウイルス(virus)
      菌 (きん) (germ)

  2. Yukari-sensei,
    (I didn’t want to ask Maggie-sensei this question, because… well, you’ll see.)
    I recently saw a post that a writer incorrectly wrote “Watashi wa inu wo motte imasu. Anata wa arimasu ka?” of course intending to mean “I have a dog. Do you have one?” Couldn’t this be completely correct if, say, the conversation were about taxidermy (剥製術)? Or stuffed (toy) animals for that matter. Then with the living-いるvs non-living-ある thing – if someone said “犬がある”, would a native Japanese automatically think that there’s a dead animal somewhere?

    1. @squidlydeux

      Hello, squidlydeux.
      Haha, thank you for being sensitive. :)
      Right. If you have a dog as a pet, you say 犬を飼っています。( = Inu wo katte imasu.)
      But if you are talking about stuffed animals or some kind of figure collections, you say 犬を持っている。
      I don’t think we automatically think there is a dead animal when we hear 犬がある. We just think it’s wrong Japanese. :)

      (From Yukari) 

  3. Hello,

    I wonder if you could help me with a book (A dictionary of basic Japanese grammar) that I am reading. For ある, it says “When ある is used to express the idea of having and the object is animate, that object must be someone who maintains a very close relationship with the possessor, such as a family member, a relative or a friend. Thus, (4) is acceptable, but (5) is odd.

    (4) 私には子供が三人ある

    …”

    Whenever I use ある in this way, I am corrected and told to use いる instead which makes sense to me.
    Even in the いる section of the same book is the sentence 「私には子供が三人いる」.
    Do you think the use of ある is just very very rare or maybe it has become outdated since the books publication?
    Or do you think the book wrong? I am quite confused by it…

    Thank you for your help! Also love your website it has been very helpful :)!

    1. @Wolf Clayton
      I wouldn’t say the book is wrong.
      As the book says, you can use ある when you are talking about someone close to you.

      Maybe the usage such as

      私には子供が3人ある

      could be getting outdated and not many people say that anymore.

      However, I did a Google search and found out one thing.
      The negative form ない is still very common. (The usage is more common when it modifies a noun)

      Ex. (〜には)子供がない・子供がない~ 1,510,000 ー 子供がいない 716,000
      Ex. (~には)男兄弟がない・男兄弟がない~ 84,100 ー 男兄弟がいない 18,800

      1. Hi Maggie!
        One thing about your research.
        Uncle Google sometimes doesn’t count correctly at fist glance.
        “Ex. (〜には)子供がない・子供がない~ 1,510,000 ー 子供がいない 716,000
        Ex. (~には)男兄弟がない・男兄弟がない~ 84,100 ー 男兄弟がいない 18,800”

        “子供がない” = 16件 (Just tip “子供がない” scroll down, click 次へ and then you will see only 16件 instead of 1 980 000).
        “男兄弟がない” = 29件

        I personally would avoid using ある in this case.

    2. But is it ある because it’s considered food, or because it’s not living? I think what I’m trying to get at is, does ある imply that something is dead (or that it was once a living thing) where otherwise いる would be used? Here’s an odd example – If my grandmother had died and someone asked “Where’s Grandma(‘s body)?” would (could) I say something like “隣の部屋にある” (she’s in the next room)?

      I’ve probably annoyed you much too long, so I’ll stop here – but that’s what you get when you give such great explanations. Thanks for always entertaining my weird questions as though they are as important to you as they are to me. You both do such great and wonderful work on this site. I really appreciate it. Thanks!

      なでなで

      1. @squidlydeux

        When someone you know or loving pets die and talk about their body, you use いる
        おばあちゃんは隣の部屋にいる and treat them as if they are alive with respect. If you say ある, it sounds really cold and you may offend their family.

        Now, if you treat them as a dead body you say 死体 (dead body: sounds very cold if you use it for someone you know. You hear that on news), then you use ある (We say 死体を発見した= We found a dead body more though) but when you use ご遺体 (goitai: more polite than 死体), you use 置かれる / 安置する or we even use 眠っている /横たわっている (sleeping/lying)

        I you found a dead animal , just saying (animal) がある is strange.
        You say あそこに死んだ(animal) がいる
        or
        (animal) の死体がある

        I should stop here before Maggie reads this comment…

        (From Yukari)

  4. Hello! I have a question. what would the sentence “doushite kowarete iru no?” mean? I’m having a bit of trouble figuring it out.

  5. Hello sensei! Thank you so much for all the lessons! I had a question…
    I was taught いる is for living things and ある is for non-living, but then how come いらない can be used for anything?
    E.g I heard people say 心配いらない and 傘はいらない?

  6. Hi sensei! This isn’t to do with this lesson but I just had a question…
    Sometimes I see in anime the word 嫌い but the romaji will be ぎらい instead of きらい? And they pronounce it ぎらい?
    Or instead of 魂 it’ll be pronounced だましい?
    Why do they do that?

    1. @Susan

      That sometimes happens in a compound word.
      For example when you read the kanji 魂 alone, you read it “たましい”
      But when it is a part of a word,
      Ex. 野球魂= やきゅうだましい = baseball spirit

      彼は人間が嫌いです
      = かれはにんげんがきらいです。
      彼は人間嫌いです
      = かれはにんげんぎらいです。
      Note: 人間嫌い= Misanthrope = A person who hate people.

  7. Hi, your site is great! I just had a question. Do you always have to use particle が when followed by あります or います? Because I heard someone say まだ時間はあるよ and I was wondering why he said は instead?

    1. @Jessie

      Hi Jessie,
      We also use は for あります or います。
      The most standard way to say is まだ時間があります。

      まだ時間はあります。
      It depends on the situation and what in the speaker’s mind but when you show the contrast we use は.
      Usually you use は when you emphasize what comes before, in this case 時間.

      ++++
      For example,
      You see Tanaka-san.
      田中さんがいます。 = Tanaka-san is here (there) / There is Tanaka-san.
      (You are just talking about Tanaka-san.)

      Now you are supposed to meet Tanaka-san and Kato-san but you only see Tanaka-san.

      田中さんはいます。(でも加藤さんはいません。) = There is Tanaka san but Kato-san is not here yet.

  8. Hi, I stumbled upon your site through google, and after reading this lesson (which is great btw, totally gonna use your site more) I have a question. Maybe you already covered this in a different lesson I don’t know, but anyway what I don’t understand is why you sometimes use “には” istead of ”は”. Like in this example “彼には家庭があります”. I have seen this before too but I never understood what the difference is. Is it used only with いる and ある verbs?

    1. @misia

      Hi Misia,
      Welcome to our site!
      When you want to emphasize 彼
      Ex. I have a dream
      私は夢があります。
      →emphasizing “I”
      私には夢があります。

      You use には not just いる・ある
      Ex. 私はできません。
      (I can’t do it)
      →emphasizing “I”
      私にはできません。

      Ex. 彼はわかりません。
      = He doesn’t understand
      →emphasizing “He”
      彼にはわかりません。

  9. hello,
    i have a little questin. In sentence with combination of people/animals and things (Under tree are cat, dog and books. / for example :-P ) Should I use aru or iru? “KI NO SHITA NEKO TO INU TO HON GA IRU/ARU.”
    Thanks. BOB

  10. Kon nichi ha, Maggie sensei!
    I know this is an old post, but I have this question about, let’s call it ‘Adjective Verb Agreement’
    If an inanimate noun qualifies an otherwise animate subject, will the verb be iru after the subject or aru after the qualifier!

    Yoroshiku onegai shimasu! !ohisama!

    1. @KanSeiTaiSusaNoO

      Hmmm I can’t think of the example now… Oh how about this one?
      Ex. ロボットがいる = There is a robot.

      I will add more if I think of other examples.

  11. Konnichiwa, Maggie-sensei.

    sensei in this sentence 食堂があるみたいだ

    which one is the correct one?

    “Looks like there is a cafeteria in boy’s dormitory”

    or

    “Looks like boy’s dormitory have a cafeteria”

    1. @just a novel lover’s

      こんにちは!!
      Both of them are correct.
      It looks like there is a cafeteria in boy’s dormitory.
      It looks like the boy’s dormitory has a cafeteria.

      It could also mean
      I heard/It seems like ~

  12. I know this is an old post and I understand the basic meanings for いるとある
    but I was trying to translate the phrase 「私は新宿にある」and was confused on what it meant for the にある。
    I would be really grateful if you could briefly help explain what にある means. Thank you.

    1. @Miburi

      Hi Miburi!
      We don’t use ある for people. We are supposed to say 私は新宿にいる/います so 私は新宿にある。doesn’t make any sense.
      Unless it is a part of the sentence, for example
      私は新宿にあるビルの中にいます。
      Where did you see the sentence?

      1. I saw it on a Japanese tv show.
        She said ”私は新宿にある北海度に流れ着きました”
        How should someone interpret the sentence grammar.
        The ある is in reference to the Hokkaido coming to Shinjuku?

        1. @Miburi

          Hello Miburi.
          First of all, it is 北海道 not 北海度, right?

          I can assume the speaker is talking about a place (supposedly a restaurant or bar) in Shinjuku where they serve typical Hokkaido food and place where Hokkaido people hang out.
          If so, this ある refers to a place not 私 and it makes sense.
          私は<新宿にある”北海道”>に流れ着きました。

          It is some kind of metaphor.
          It means “I drifted to “Hokkaido” which exists in Shinjuku”

          1. ありがとうございました!
            漢字が間違いました。はい、「北海道」が書いていました。
            Yes, it was a show about a product exhibition of Hokkaido food.
            北海道の物産展の所でした。
            Ok that makes sense so to break down the sentence from the 私は, since that would not make sense if it was connected.
            Sorry for the confusing question, I’ll make sure to provide more detail next time.

  13. Thank you for activating the comments, hehe.

    Some time ago I read the sentence パトカーがいます。Since the car is an object, how can that be? Is it because there are people inside? Does this apply to other objects? Or is it just incorrect?

    1. @Cygnus

      パトカーがいる is possible if there are policemen inside and we treat パトカー as if a human. (How can I say, personification!?)
      For the same reason, we also say in conversation あそこにタクシーがいる only when a taxi driver is in it. If we just see a car and nobody is in it, we say 車がとまっている。

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