“Aru” and “Iru”: Existence and Location in Japanese



Understanding the concepts of existence and location is fundamental in Japanese.

The verbs “ある” (aru) and “いる” (iru) play a crucial role in expressing the presence of inanimate objects and animate beings, respectively.

This guide explores how to correctly use “ある” and “いる,” providing a foundation for constructing sentences that describe existence and location.

“ある” (Aru) for Inanimate Objects

“ある” is used to indicate the existence or presence of inanimate objects, non-living things, and abstract concepts.

  • Example: ここに本がある。 (Koko ni hon ga aru. – There is a book here.)
  • Example: 部屋には古い写真がたくさんあります。 (Heya ni wa furui shashin ga takusan arimasu. – There are many old photos in the room.)

It’s also employed to describe the possession of items.

  • Example: 私には夢がある。 (Watashi ni wa yume ga aru. – I have a dream.)
  • Example: 私たちには共通の目標があります。(Watashitachi ni wa kyoutsuu no mokuhyou ga arimasu. – We have a common goal.)

“いる” (Iru) for Animate Beings

Conversely, “いる” describes the existence or presence of living entities, including people and animals.

It emphasizes the animate nature of the subject.

  • Example: 庭に猫がいる。 (Niwa ni neko ga iru. – There is a cat in the garden.)
  • Example: 駅に友人がいます。(Eki ni yuujin ga imasu. – My friend is at the station.)

To navigate between “ある” and “いる” is to understand the heart of Japanese expression.

It’s recognizing the divide between the animate and inanimate, the tangible and intangible, and rendering these distinctions with clarity in your conversations and writings.

Crafting Questions with “ある” and “いる”

It is easy to ask whether or not a subject is present or where it is.

Adding “か” turns the sentence into a question.

Basically, we use the polite forms あります” and “います.”

  • “ある” Inquiry: この部屋に窓がありますか。 (Kono heya ni mado ga arimasu ka? – Is there a window in this room?)
  • “いる” Inquiry: あなたの犬は庭にいますか。 (Anata no inu wa niwa ni imasu ka? – Is your dog in the garden?)

Conjugation Table forr “ある” and “いる”

Table for ある(aru):

Table for いる(iru):


Grasping “ある” and “いる” is foundational for anyone seeking to effectively communicate about the presence or absence, and location, of objects and beings in Japanese.

Embrace these verbs as tools for crafting clear, accurate descriptions of the world, enriching both your linguistic skills and cultural comprehension.