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To Be verbs

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To Be verbs

Postby Gakusha » Sun 06.05.2005 10:59 pm

I haven't seen this anywhere yet, but how do you distinguish whether to use である、です、あります、and います? I've heard something about ありますand います showing location, with the former for inanimate objects and the latter for living things, but that's really all I know. Can anyone help?
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RE: To Be verbs

Postby Tsuyoiko » Mon 06.06.2005 6:46 am

As I understand it arimasu is the polite form of aru, they mean 'to be' for inanimate objects. Imasu is the polite form of iru, 'to be' for living things. In some sentences you can substitute them with desu, e.g. "asoko ni arimasu" and "asoko desu" both mean 'it's over there'.

Desu means 'is' in the sense of equivalence, whereas aru/iru mean 'is' in the sense of existence. For example, "Kore wa hon desu" means 'This is a book', but "Hon ga arimasu" means 'There is a book (here)'. The reason it is confusing is that we have just a single word for both sense of 'to be'.

Does that make sense?
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RE: To Be verbs

Postby InsanityRanch » Mon 06.06.2005 8:03 am

What Tsuyoiko said! <g>

However, である is only used in writing. In speech, だ(plain) or です(polite) is used for the copular (no, that's not a dirty word) form. The copular is the equals-sign form, expressed in English by the verb to be, as in "John is a doctor. The cat is pretty" and so on.

And as Tsuyoiko said, いる(います) / ある(あります) are the verbs used to express existence for animate objects (people and animals for the most part) and non-animate objects (plants, nonliving things, ideas) respectively. Tatoeba, when Gackt-san was asked whether he had a sister he replied. "hai, imasu." And if I want to ask the sushi chef if he has (can serve?) inarizushi, I say, "inarizushi ga arimasu ka?"

There is also the verb する, which is sometimes said to represent the English verb to be. But it is not a very close correspondence. する is used to turn certain nouns into verbs, ala English "do" ("Let's do lunch!") and to express states of, well, being I suppose: 頭がぼんやりしている (I'm feeling kind of fuzzy-headed.)

Bottom line. English uses the verb to be for a lot of logically separate functions. For the most part, Japanese parcels these functions out to separate verbs.

Shira
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RE: To Be verbs

Postby Gakusha » Mon 06.06.2005 1:01 pm

どうもありがとうございますよ! Your help is greatly appreciated.
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