Sunday, March 24, 2019

iru いる

WIP: this article is incomplete and might change in the unforeseeable future.
In Japanese, iru いる means one of the following homonyms:
  • iru 居る
    To exist. To be.
    To exist in possession of someone. (to have.)
    The animate counterpart of aru ある.
  • iru 要る
    To be necessary. (to need.)
  • iru 入る
    To enter. To go in.
    Often used in set phrases.
  • iru 射る
    To shoot. (e.g. an arrow.)

The first two, to exist and to be necessary, are specially tricky since they can be used in the same way. For example, the following phrase:
  • kimi ga iru
    君がいる

Can mean that "you're necessary," in other words, "I need you." But it can also mean "you exist [in my possession," which means "I have you," in the sense "you're by my side," or "you support me."

Yes, you read that right: iru can mean opposite things. I either need you or I have you. If I need you I don't have you, and if I have you, I wouldn't say I need you, because I already have you. Japanese is weird like that.

The word iru 入る, "to enter," is also homonymous with hairu 入る, which also means "to enter."

In fact, most of the time the word is hairu 入る, not iru 入る.
  • naka ni hairu 中に入る
    To enter inside.
    To [go] inside.

It tends to be iru 入る instead in a number of expressions, like:
  • ki ni iru 気に入る
    To enter [one's] feeling. (literally.)
    To like.
    • ki ni itta! 気に入った
      I like it! ("it entered my feeling." Don't even bother trying to understand the literal meaning.)
  • me ni iru
    目に入る
    To enter [one's] eye.
    To be in sight.
    • me ni iru mono subete wo hakai suru
      目に入るもの全てを破壊する
      To destroy all the things that enter the eye.
      To destroy everything in sight.

You're probably not going to have trouble with iru 射る, "to shoot." But, for reference:
  • ya wo iru
    矢を射る
    To shoot an arrow.

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