Sunday, March 24, 2019

iru いる, 居る - To Exist

WIP: this article is incomplete and might change in the unforeseeable future.
In Japanese, iru いる, also spelled iru 居る, means "to be" or "to exist" somewhere. It doesn't mean "to be" something, for that, see the copula desu です.

Not to be confused with the iru いる that means "to need." Or with the other iru いる.

When iru comes after the te form of verbs, it becomes the te-iru ている form, which is not what this article is about.

Note that aru ある is the inanimate counterpart of iru いる. Since aru can mean "to have" sometimes, iru can mean "to have" sometimes too.

The verb iru often used with the location pronouns koko, soko, asoko, doko ここ, そこ, あそこ, どこ. For example:
  • watashi wa koko ni iru
    私はここにいる
    I exist here.
    I'm here.
  • kare wa doko ni iru?!
    彼はどこにいる?!
    He exists where?!
    Where he exists?!
    Where he is?!
    Where is he?!

Some examples with relative clauses:
  • asoko ni iru hito
    あそこにいる
    The person [that] exists there.
    The person [that] is there.
  • watashi ga iru basho 私がいる場所
    watashi no iru basho 私のいる場所
    The place [where] I exist.
    The place [where] I am.

The verb iru いる is only used with animated stuff. Animated as in animals. Which happens to include humans, too, which are animals, too, despite what some humans may tell you.
  • asoko ni iru neko
    あそこにいる猫
    The cat [that] exists there.
    The cat [that] is there.

When you want to say something "is" there, and that something isn't a person or animal, you use the verb aru ある instead. For example:
  • buki wa koko ni aru
    武器はここにある
    Weapons exist here.
    There are weapons here.
  • asoko ni aru ki
    あそこにある木
    A tree exists there.
    There's a tree there.
  • mizu ga aru basho 水がある場所
    mizu no aru basho 水のある場所
    A place [where] water exists.
    A place [where] there's water.

The verb aru ある can also mean "to have," in the sense that something "exists in possession" of someone else. This meaning translates to iru いる, too. For example:
  • kane ga aru金がある
    Money exists in [my] possession.
    [I] have money.
  • neko ga iru
    猫がいる
    Cat exists in [my] possession.
    [I] have a cat.
  • watashi niwa anata ga iru
    私にはあなたがいる
    For me, there's you.
    I have you [by my side].

The negative form of aru ある would be aranai あらない, but that form is not used. Instead, the i-adjective nai ない, "nonexistent," is used to say an inanimate thing doesn't exist. As for iru いる, the negative form inai いない is used. For example:
  • asoko ni mizu ga nai
    あそこに水がない
    Water is nonexistent there.
    There's no water there.
  • asoko ni neko ga inai
    あそこに猫がいない
    Cat is nonexistent there.
    • Due to how plurals work in Japanese, this can mean two things:
    • There are no cats there. (a cat-less land. Terrifying.)
    • The cat isn't there. (one specific cat we care about isn't there.)

A couple examples with the "to not have" meaning:
  • kane ga nai
    金がない
    Money is nonexistent in my possession.
    I have no money.
    I don't have money.
  • kanojo ga inai
    彼女がいない
    Girlfriend is nonexistent in my possession.
    I have no girlfriend.
    I don't have a girlfriend.

Some other conjugations:
  • kimi ga ite yokatta
    君がいてよかった
    You existing [there] was good.
    You existing [in my possession] was good.
    • I'm glad you were there for me.
    • I'm glad I had you.
    • ite いて
      The te-form of iru いる.
  • Imouto Sae Ireba Ii.
    妹さえいればいい
    So Long As Younger Sisters Exist It's Good.
    • ireba いれば
      Conditional ba-form of iru いる.
      If it exists. If I have them.

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