Existence 2

Expand upon Beginner Lesson 16 and 17 and introduces two similar sentence structures

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KanjiVocabularyExistence 2



Roof, Seller, House

Stand, Machine




Convenience store



Inside, Among, Middle



Outside, Exterior




Greengrocer, Fruit and vegetable shop

Existence 2

In Beginner Lesson 16 and Beginner Lesson 17, we have learned how to express existence and possession with the sentence structures: location に something があります and location に someone がいます. These are often used when the speaker finds something/someone and describes where they are.

In this lesson, we will learn two similar sentence structures: something は location にあります and someone は location にいます, and the differences between these and the structures from earlier.

Let's start by looking at an example sentence with the sentence structure location に something があります from earlier.

  • あそこに八百屋やおやがあります。
  • There is a vegetable shop over there.

The main purpose of the sentence above is to inform others that the speaker has found a vegetable shop, and that this is new information for the listeners. The focus of this sentence is to inform of the existence of the shop. This is also enhanced by the use of the subject marker particle が, which is often used to introduce new information to listeners.

On the other hand, when the speaker wants to describe the location of a known person/item or when the emphasis is on the location, the someone は location にいます and something は location にあります structures are used instead:

  • 八百屋やおやはあそこにあります。
  • The vegetable shop is over there.

In the sentence above, the topic marker particle は is used instead of が, and the order of the sentence is the topic first and the location second. The focus of this sentence is to convey the location of the shop rather than its existence. In Japanese, the important information that the speaker wants to convey tends to come towards the end of the sentence.

A common example situation of this sentence structure is when answering the location of a person or an item:

Q: Where is your mother?

  • A: はは台所だいどころにいます。
  • A: My mother is in the kitchen.

Because the topic (mother) has been already introduced in the question, it doesn't have to be emphasised in the answer, therefore it uses は. The location of the mother (kitchen) is the main information in the answer statement, and comes towards the end of the sentence.

In fact, the someone は location にいます structure would be used in the question statement above as well because the main focus of the statement is asking the location rather than the existence of the mother:

  • あなたのおかあさんはどこにいますか?
  • Where is your mother?

In both sentence structures, the more important information that the speaker wants to convey comes towards the end of the sentence. This is the common word order in other sentence structures in Japanese as well.

More examples

  • コンビニはホテルのなかにあります。
  • The convenience store is inside the hotel.
  • ちちそとにいます。
  • My father is outside.
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