:Home/Japanese Grammar/Japanese verbs Arimasu (あります) and Imasu (います)

Learn Japanese Grammar – Arimasu and Imasu

ARIMASU and IMASU - sakana ga arimasu ka?

Arimasu and imasu are verbs we use to express existence of non-living things (arimasu) and living things (imasu).  They are both similar to “there is“.  When using these verbs, we always mark the subject with が (ga).

(Thing) あります
ga arimasu
(Person) います
ga imasu


For example,


iwa ga arimasu.

(There is a rock.)

iwa ga arimasu.  iwa ga arimasu.

We used あります (arimasu) because a rock is a non-living thing.  It’s not very interesting though, is it?    If you have read our lessons before, you should know that we like to spice things up a bit:

ラスター がいます。

rathtar ga imasu.

(There is a rathtar.)

rathtar ga imasu. rathtar ga imasu.

This “rathtar” demands that we use います (imasu) because it is a living thing, so we should probably listen.  These examples were pretty easy, but sometimes there are situations where you may need to stop for a second to think about it.  For example, what if a living thing is no longer… living?  In that case, we will use あります (arimasu) because it is not really a living thing any longer:


sakana ga arimasu.

(There is a fish.)

sakana ga arimasu. sakana ga arimasu.
Of course if we see a fish still living his life to the fullest, we should use います (imasu):


sakana ga imasu.

(There is a fish.)

sakana ga imasu. sakana ga imasu.

に (ni) is used for a location with あります (Arimasu) and います (Imasu).


In a previous lesson, we learned that (ni) is used to indicate a location of existence.  To do this, we simply plug “location + ni” into our sentence with  あります (arimasu) and います (imasu).
heya ni isu ga arimasu
There is a
chair in the room.
heya ni sensei ga
There is a
teacher in the room.
heya ni isu ga arimasu heya ni sensei ga imasu

When we use location + に (ni) as we did above, it can be placed before or after our subject.  Let’s switch them around so that you can see that nothing changes.

isu ga heya ni arimasu
There is
a chair in the room.
sensei ga heya ni 
There is
a teacher in the room.
isu ga heya ni arimasu sensei ga heya ni imasu  


Possession is expressed with あります (Arimasu)


Arimasu is used to indicate possession of something, such as money.

okane ga arimasu
(I) have money
okane ga arimasu okane ga arimasu
Add me to Skype and we can practice this grammar point together!
tekudasai and onegaishimasu The difference between WA and GA
Kudasai and Onegaishimasu Japanese Grammar Index The difference between WA vs. GA