How to use いる+ある ( = iru + aru)



= Okawari aru?

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


= Mou nai!

= “No more food left!”



= Maggie sensei, kareshi iru?

“Miss Maggie, do you have a boyfriend?”


= 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 animals (=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)

⬇️(negative forms)

「いない」( = inai)

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

🔸 「ある」( = aru)

:rrrr:(politer)「あります」( = arimasu)

⬇️(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, いる (iru) and ある ( aru)  have the 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?”)


= Mou nai!

= “No there isn’t any!”


 = Maggie sensei, kareshi iru?

“Miss Maggie, do you have a boyfriend?”


= 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.

🔸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

🔸 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,


= 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 in buildings but also in resources, nature, groups, statues, meaning, or essence of things.

 = yamaga aru

There is a mountain.


 = Toukyou ni honsha ga aru

The Head Quarters is in Tokyo.


 = kuni ga aru

to exist a country


= kichi ga aru

=There is a base

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


 = kuruma ga aru

There is a car / to own a car.


= okane ga aru

to have money / there is money


 = ninki ga aru  

= to have popularity (to be popular)


= 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


 = 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!”.


Thank you Orti to translate this lesson in Spanish.
Check the Spanish translation on my Facebook.

Click here.


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  1. こんにちは!

    This is probably a silly question, but why is 「に」 used to mark the location of of an object with 居る and 在る rather than say 「で」? I’ve read that for some other similarly confusing verbs (such as 住む and 泊まる) that the location should be considered a destination (which doesn’t really make sense to me even in those cases) but I haven’t seen any clarification on these existential verbs.

    1. こんにちは、クリス
      Good question.
      As you know
      You use 「で」 to indicate the location where some action occurs.
      You use 「に」 to indicate the location where something/someone exists (with verbs like 「いる」/「ある」) and also location of state.
      「住む」 and 「泊まる」 are not action verbs. They describe a state (living/staying). Therefore, you use the particle 「に」 with these verbs.

      FYI I have a lesson of に & で

  2. what is there are living things in an inanimate object? like if there are people on a cover of a magazine or animals in a photo. would you use いる or ある or some other verb?

  3. Hi Maggie!

    If you ask a question using いる?or ある?, can いるの?and あるの?be used in the same way?

    1. Hi renna

      Yes, you can attach の at the end.
      いるの? あるの?
      While it could just add the casual tone, you can emphasize the question expressing your feelings such as surprise, frustration, doubts by attaching の

  4. Good Day Maggie Sensei!

    this is the first time I’m going to ask. But i have been reading a lot on this page. I’d like to support the page but I cannot provide for now. 😅 but I will, and everytime I visit the page, once I become a technical intern.

    So here’s my question


    those are the sentences that we’re trying to understand. What particle should be used, should it be は or が?
    I’m aware that there’s a better sentence structure like おとこはいぬがいますからきのうえにいます。But with the two sentences provided, can you please explain the difference between them?

    And also , I’ve been reading comments a while ago. I’m seeing the word “contrast” when you explain “は”. What does it mean? can you please give me an example of this sentence? Thank you so much!!!

    1. Hi Kaeith,

      First let me change the first part

      いぬがいるから、おとこのこはきのうえにいます。 is more natural than おとこのこがきのうえにいます。

      And you are right おとこのこは、いぬがいるからきのうえにいます is even more natural.

      The key to figure out which particle to use in this sentence is
      when you see a boy on the tree for the first time, you tell someone the informstion
      おとこのこがきのうえにいます。 = There is a boy on the tree!
      You don’t know who the boy is but you are describing what you see.

      But you and the listener know who the boy is or you mentioned the boy before, you say
      そのおとこのこは、きのうえにいます。= That boy is on the tree.

      Now adding the reason, いぬがいるから, the speaker specifies which boy they are talking about so it will be more natural to use は

      You can use this idea for object.

      You see an apple on the table, you say

      But if you are talking about the specific apple,

      は is a topic marker so you use は when you introduce, bring up a topic.
      You also use は when you show the contrast.

      For example, the apple is on the table but an orange is under the table.

      I am American but she is Japanese.

  5. Hey sensei,
    just to clarify, are iru and imasu the same thing except imasu is more polite?
    And is it the same thing with aru and arimasu?

    ありとうございます。 :)

  6. I always see 電子あり (the opposite of 電子のみ) and 試し読みあり on comic sites. Does あり come from ある? And what does it mean exactly?

    1. あり is a written form あります which means “available”
      Ex. 電子あり = 電子書籍あり(ます) e-book available
      Ex. 在庫あり = We have stock.
      The opposite is なし = not available.

  7. I’ve seen いる and ある also paired with the は particle and it kind of confuses me. Is there a huge difference? For example:


    I don’t know whether to use が or は

    1. Hello Kevin,
      When you describe someone / something is there in affirmative form

      is more natural.
      So you say この店には英語のメニューがあります。

      If you use 英語のメニューはあります, it shows the contrast so it implies, they have an English menu but they don’t have a menu in other languages.

      Now, when you simply ask if they have an English menu or not
      is more natural.

      If you say 英語のメニューが
      it sounds like
      Do you have “AN ENGLISH MENU”? (emphasizing an English menu)

  8. 彼には家庭が あります。family
    私には弟が二人 います。brothers
    Why family use ARU but brothers use IRU?
    Isn’t both are “living”

    For the following example do we use IRU or ARU?
    I have a fever
    I had a shock (someone gave me a scare)
    I am worried
    I have a nap

    おしえて お願いします
    難しい ね separating IRU and ARU

    1. Hello soleyman

      I have a fever 熱(ねつ)があります。

      I had a shock (someone gave me a scare) ショックを受(う)けた・受けました。
      I am worried 心配(しんぱい)しています。
      I have a nap 昼寝(ひるね)をした・しました

  9. こんにちは先生
    I have a question about the particle がwith ある。From what I know, ある takes が particle (…がある。) . However, I have seen に being used in place of it as well. For example- 選択接続詞とは前の内容とあとの内容が選択関係にある。
    Here meaning seems to be the same as when が is used, but I don’t know why に is being used here. It might be that I am not understanding the meaning of に here. Can you please help?

    1. Hi Ruchika

      〜がある There are/is something (This が shows the existence of object/event)
      Ex. 机の上にかぎがある
      = There is a key on the table.
      So here you are talking about the existence and location of the key.
      This が is a subject marker of what exists.
      Your example sentence に describes where or in what kind of state something locates
      to be in certain state/condition/relationship
      Somethingは、〜関係にある =

  10. こんにちは, マギーせん正確。

    I have a question regarding いる vs. ある – so it says in the blog that the former is used for people and animals while the latter is used for events, objects, etc.

    But what about the book 吾輩は猫である? (Wagahai-Wa Neko de Aru)

    I personally haven’t read it yet, since I’m a beginner to Japanese, but I understand that the honorifics used by the speaker imply high social stature (like nobility) despite the narrator being a mere cat—but I digress.

    My question is this: why is it ある and not いる?

    1. こんにちは、エイデン
      Ah, that ある is not to express the existence.
      OK, you know this form, right?
      Noun + です

      私はエイデンです。 I am Aedan.
      私は犬です。(in my case..) I am a dog.
      今日は木曜日です。(It’s Thursday.)

      In literal form you use である instead of です。
      You see this form in writing Japanese.

  11. How does iru/aru compare to desu/da ?

    I read desu/da also mean “to be.”

    ありがとう 🤞 I love your site. The way you answer thoroughly and with examples in pretty colors is perfect 👍👌

    1. Hi Blaise,

      You are right.
      “desu/da” also means “to be” in English.
      The difference is when you are talking about the existence /location of something/someone, you use iru and aru.

      Ex. He is at home = Kare wa ie ni iru/imasu.
      Ex. There is a dog in the park = Kouen ni inu ga iru/imasu.
      Ex. There is a bag on the desk/ = Tsukue no ue ni kaban ga aru/arimasu.
      Ex. The bag is in the room. = Kaban wa heya ni aru/arimasu.

      When you express, some quality, nationality, occupation you use, da/desu.
      X = Y

      Ex. Watashi wa Maggie da/desu. = I am Maggie.
      Ex. Kare wa nihonjin da/desu. = He is Japanese.
      Ex. Kore wa watashi no kasa desu. = This is my umbrella.

  12. Hello Maggie I have a question, I was confused alittle about には but you explained it earlier

    Can you please explain the difference of this to me


    and what is the best way to translate this:


    I understand Ga is marking subject of Refrigerator and saying it exists, but how exactly is it saying that its “In The Kitchen” is what confuses me, I know its modifying the noun but….it doesn’t translate this way in my western head

    1. Hi there,
      “There are mountains in Japan?”
      The most natural way to say is
      日本には山がある。 This には has a function to bring up a topic: As for ~
      As for Japan, there are mountains (in it)”

      日本に山がある is just a factual thing. 日本には is more explanatory. You bring up a topic, 日本 and explain what they have in Japan.

      たくさん休みがある5月が好き (I fixed the typo)
      I love May which has lots of holidays.

      The kitchen which has a refrigerator.

      If you want to learn more about how to modify a noun, check this lesson. →Click this link.

  13. Hello,
    I was trying to figure out how to say “dogs that don’t have wings” in Japanese, and I thought it would be 翼がない犬. However, Google Translate (which I know is not very reliable) gave me 翼のない犬, and I also know of a few other examples where の is used instead of が here (for example, 君のいる町, 名前のない怪物, etc). If it’s not too much trouble, could you please explain to me why の is used instead of が here, and whether that applies to other verbs in addition to いる and ある?

    1. Hi Cher

      You can say both
      (The meaning is the same. You emphasize 翼・君・名前 with が more with が)

      Please check this lesson. →Click this link

  14. 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
      However, you sometimes use ある (in this case “to exist”) for
      バクテリア (vacteria)
      菌 (きん) (germ)

  15. 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) 

  16. 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


      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.

        1. @天人
          Oh my.. you are right. After all, I learned I can’t trust Google research results number. Have to check the next page. haha. Thank you!

    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!


      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
        (animal) の死体がある

        I should stop here before Maggie reads this comment…

        (From Yukari)

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

  18. 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?

  19. 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

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

  20. 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。

      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.

  21. 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
      →emphasizing “I”

      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”

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

  22. 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

  23. 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.

  24. 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”


    “Looks like boy’s dormitory have a cafeteria”

    1. @just a novel lover’s

      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 ~

  25. 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
      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.

          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!
            Yes, it was a show about a product exhibition of Hokkaido food.
            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.

  26. 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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