Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I just learned about: います and あります.

I know I should use います for people and moving things and あります for plants and inanimate things.

I have two doubts:

  • Which one should I use with "dead body". For example: "Is there a dead body inside the room?"
  • What about robots or a non living thing with AI?
share|improve this question
Other questions on which verb to use, but not answering this specific question: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/1905/…あります-wit‌​h-a-living-subject and japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/5147/do-viruses-あります-or-います – Andrew Grimm Jul 24 '12 at 3:09
If you are just starting out, then those rules will often get you by. However, the topic is more complex and depends on one's perspective, feeling, and context. Here is an informative read on the topc: leo.aichi-u.ac.jp/~goken/bulletin/pdfs/NO22/03Yamamoto.indd.pdf – Dono Jul 24 '12 at 4:33
@Dono: Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, I am far from understanding a text like that. – Macarse Jul 24 '12 at 12:51
up vote 16 down vote accepted

Basically it depends on how the speaker feels. However, I think we usually say:

  • 死体があります。
  • ロボットがいます。 if it looks like it has a mind of its own.
  • ロボットがあります。 if it is an industrial robot without a mind.
  • 車がいます。 if it is being driven by a human.
  • 車があります。 when we talk about cars in general.
  • 人工知能(AI)があります。 if it doesn't have anything visual, auditory or physical.
  • コンピュータのソフトウェアがあります。
  • ゲームのキャラクターがいます。 if it is controlled by computer software.
  • 細菌/ウイルス/コンピュータウイルスがいます。 when we talk about someone's symptoms.
  • 細菌/ウイルス/コンピュータウイルスがあります。
  • ゾンビがいます。
  • 幽霊がいます。
share|improve this answer
+1. I never knew that things are this way: "車がいます。 if it is being driven by a human.". Thank you. – herby Jul 24 '12 at 9:56

According to a quick google search, and agreeing with my thoughts, you should say "死体があります" for dead body, but you would say "死んだ人がいます" (if you like zombies).

For robots and AI, well, I guess います is acceptable, provided it's like a living thing (such as an aibo). I doubt you'd say it for a clever car, unless it's KITT from the Knight Rider… To sum up, it's quite subjective in this case.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.