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I don't quite get how あります is used in the following sentences from the Genki textbook:

  • あなたの学校に何がありますか。
  • デパートに何がありますか。
  • 動物園に何がいますか。
  • あなたの国に何がありますか。
  • あなたの家に何がありますか。

Is あります used as in "where," "what," or "what's there?"

Thanks!

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Can you give an example of a sentence with あります, where you understand what あります means? –  Earthliŋ Jan 23 at 12:59
    
I get something like this: あなたの町に日本のレストランが有りますか。 - Are there any restaurants in your city? あなたの家に猫がいますか。 - Do you have a cat at home? Are those questions above just really generic questions that I'm overthinking? Something like "What does your country have" seems too... strange to me. –  funfortehfun Jan 23 at 13:19
    
They are indeed just generic questions. Your textbook is asking "What is there at/in your school?" and is expecting a response like "There is football field at my school." –  Earthliŋ Jan 23 at 13:45
    
Don't forget to translate 日本の in your first example! :-) –  snailboat Jan 23 at 14:53

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

あります in those sentences means something along the lines of "There is ..." or "it has". It's an extremely common verb in Japanese with no perfect parallel in English. It is not used for living things.

います is used similarly but for living things.

あなたの学校に何がありますか。

What is in your school? / What does your school have?

デパートに何がありますか。

What is in the department store? / What does the department store have?

動物園に何がいますか。

What lives in the zoo? / What does the zoo have [that is alive]?

あなたの国に何がありますか。

What is there in your country? / What does your country have?

あなたの家に何がありますか。

What is there in your house? / What does your house have?


All of that to say that あります does not make a sentence a question. So then what does? The question is being generated by the か at the end and the 何 in the middle.

何 roughly means "what" か transforms a sentence into a question (at least for the sake of what you are asking).


The form of the answers would be:

XにYがあります。

e.g. 私の国に[砂漠]{さばく}があります。

or for living things

XにYがいます。

e.g. [動物園]{どうぶつえん}にりすがいます。There are squirrels in the zoo.

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You say that あります means "to have", but none of your translations contain the verb "have". –  Earthliŋ Jan 23 at 13:01
    
@Earthling. I've tried amending it... adding some ways to translate using to have. Since it is such a common verb in Japanese which serves a few grammatical functions, it's quite hard to express it in a single way in English. –  virmaior Jan 23 at 13:14

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