When to use iru/aru vs desu?

Genaro
Asked 2 months ago

I’m learning Japanese and my current lesson is arimasu and imasu. It is used for stating the existance of an object/person but when should I use it instead of desu? 


First the lesson taught me: 
Buuchono heya ni asoko desu  
Uketsukewa ikkaidesu 

Then it thought me 
Neko ga imasu 
Heya no naka ni hito ga iru 

So when should I use desu or iru and aru? Please help me.

Also, the book says “ shachoowa doko imasuka?” Can’t I just say “Shachoowa doko desu ka?”

Genaro
Commented 2 months ago

Know someone who might be able to answer this question?

4 Answers

3
Votes
+750

 

です in the basic sense is am/is/are in English.

いる・ある is there is/there are in English, with いる corresponding to animate objects (people and animals), ある is for inanimate objects. I can't remember which lesson it is on here but it does a good job of explaining the difference.

Also of note is that you can actually have いる・ある + です in the same sentence, because です can simply be a marker you stick at the end of sentence to make it more polite, e.g. 三つあるです (There's three of something). That means exactly the same thing as 三つあります, it's just a variation of it. There's a lot of ways of saying the exact same thing in Japanese - I can think of about five different ways to ask someone how old they are, for example.

いる・ある are also used as auxilliary verbs but you'll get to that in your studies later on, most likely.

Also there appears to be a mistake in your book, it should be 社長は、どこ居ますか。You've got to have the に in there, it's part of いる・ある use. Aki or someone will probably correct me but どこですか should be used for buildings, places etc. whilst Xさんがどこに居ますか should be used for people.

番長
Answered 2 months ago

0
Votes

Hi Genaro san,

Thank you for the good question :) 

As 番長-san explained in detail, desu (です) is equivalent to "be-verb" like is/am/are in English.
On the other hand, iru/imasu (いる/います) are "there is/are (animated objects like humans and animals)" and aru/arimasu (ある/あります) are "there is/are (in-animated objects like things)"

So when you want to say "where is our president?", you can say either  "Shachō wa doko desu ka?" (しゃちょうは どこですか?) or "Shachō wa doko ni imasu ka?" (しゃちょうは どこにいますか?). In this case, desu and imasu are interchangeable. (Please make sure to put particle "ni" with imasu.)

However, when you don't talk about locations, you can't use desu to express exsistence of something or someone.
For example, if you just say "there is a cat", you can say Neko ga imasu (ねこが います), but you can't say Neko desu (ねこです)

Hi 番長-san,

Thank you for the precise explanation :) 

Concerning, いる/ある + です, I've never used "あるです" as the politer form while it sounds cute. I just say "あります". Or if you mean あるのです, it works.  

 

Aki
Answered 2 months ago

Ah right, I thought it was just a polite copula you could append to the end of any sentence to make it more polite. Of course the ます系 is better.

番長
Commented 2 months ago

です can follow "Nouns (including pronouns)" and "Adjectives" as the polite form, while ます should be used to make "Verbs" more polite. (so-called ます-form) e.g. ある → あります  *exception ない → ないです(please treat as an adjective in Japanese) or ありません

Aki
Commented 2 months ago

0
Votes

Hello! I wish you good luck

 

gomovies

 

 

walterggins
Answered 1 month ago

0
Votes

Car, pen, bread --> aru

Dad, cat, teacher --> iru

This topic came up whilst I was in Japan and the basic idea is that aru is for inanimate objects and iru is for living things so I suppose its more respectful. Imagine if someone asked where you were and the response was "its in the kitchen," you'd be a little annoyed. Aru is a bit like that.

Desu just means that a sentence you've used that doesn't have any other verb is true. My dad is a teacher, my cat is brown etc. But if someone asked where your cat was, you'd use iru.

We then had a debate amongst a group of maybe 8 Japanese people and some foreigners as to whether trees should be iru or aru (its aru, so think animate instead of living).

We never did reach a consensus on robots though...

LeviJimmy
Answered 1 month ago