Lesson 16: Arimasu / Imasu

The Japanese verbs ある and いる are very important and unique verbs. Neither of these verbs was presented in Lesson 13 (on verbs) because they require a bit more explanation.

Part One – ある

First, let’s look at ある. This is the dictionary form of the verb, and roughly means “to have” or “to exist.” When conjugated into present affirmative and negative, ある becomes あります and ありません. This verb is used when saying you or someone else possesses an inanimate object. The negative form of the verb would mean that you do not possess a specific item. For example, わたしはほんがあります(I have a book). The negation of this sentence would be わたしはほんがありません(I do not have a book). ある can also be used to simply state that an inanimate object exists somewhere. For example, あそこにくるまがあります(Over there, there is a car).

*Note that がis the particle that always appears with this verb.

ある can also be used to express experience. The form used for this type of sentence is ことがあります. This structure is more complicated and will be tackled in a later lesson. It involves the past tense of verbs, which will also be discussed later. Just keep that in mind: ある has more than one use!

Practice – Exercise One

Figure out how to say the following English sentences in Japanese. There is an answer key at the very end of this post for all of the exercises in this lesson. Don’t scroll down until you’re ready!! *Note: Some of the vocabulary in these sentences may not have been covered yet. If you run across a word you do not know, use a Japanese dictionary to look up the correct word.

  1. My little sister has an apple.
  2. My mom has a Japanese language book.
  3. I have a car.
  4. I do not have money.
  5. That person does not have a hat.
  6. There is a tree here.
  7. Is there a car over there?
  8. There is not a car over there.
  9. Do you have food?

10.  I do not have food.

Part Two – いる

Now, let’s move on to いる. This verb works as kind of a counterpart to ある.  The conjugated forms for this verb are います and いません. As stated previously, あるis used for inanimate objects. いる, on the other hand, is the verb that is used for living beings such as humans and animals. For example, わたしはねこがいます(I have a cat) and わたしはいぬがいません(I don’t have a dog). いる can also be used in conjunction with location words to talk about existence. が is always used with います and いません.

Practice – Exercise Two

  1. There is a cat over there.
  2. My dad is not over there.
  3. Is your mother here?
  4. My mother is not here.
  5. I have an older brother.

Part Three – The には Particle Cluster

The particles に and は can actually work together in the same sentence. Let’s look at this sentence construction: Yには X がいます/あります. This means that “In Y, there is X.” The purpose of placing は after the に phrase is that it makes the location the topic of the sentence. This can be used if the person being spoken to is familiar with the location.

Here are some examples:


In my room, there is a desk.


In my house, there is a cat.


In that school, there are Japanese people.


In Japanese class, there are Koreans and Americans.



Don’t read this section until you’ve done the exercises!!

*Exercise One

1. いもうとはりんごがあります。

2. おかあさんはにほんごのほんがあります。

3. わたしはくるまがあります。

4. わたしはおかねがありません。

5. あのひとはぼうしがありません。

6. ここにきがあります。

7. くるまがあそこにありますか。




*Exercise Two

1. あそこにねこがいます。

2. ちちがあそこにいません。

3. おかあさんがここにいますか。

4. おかあさんがここにいません。

5. わたしはあにがいます。

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