Quick basic grammar question.

With respect to expressing ownership of an item using ある. Am I correctly understanding the general meaning and particle use in the following sentences?

  1. 私の辞書がありません → I do not have MY dictionary

  2. 私は辞書がありません → I do not have a dictionary

I think the second example makes sense grammatically speaking, however I'm unsure if the first example is correct. Can I use の in similar situations like this to express if a particular item belongs to me? Can I use it like this with いる as well?

For example:

  1. 私の子供がいます → The child is mine

  2. 私は子供がいます → I have a child



  • Hello! Welcome to JLSE! I replaced the rōmaji in your question with Japanese writing. If you object to these changes, please feel free to click "edit" and roll them back. Thanks!
    – user1478
    Dec 25, 2013 at 12:34

1 Answer 1


私の辞書がありません does NOT mean "I do not have my dictionary." This is a very common mistake among J-learners. To us native speakers, it can ONLY mean "My dictionary is missing." as in "I brought my dictionary here but I can't find it now. Where did it go?"

Yes, 私は辞書がありません means "I do not have a dictionary."

私の子供がいます does not mean "The child is mine." It is not such a natural-sounding sentence but if anyone said it, it would mean "There is my kid."

Yes, 私は子供がいます means "I have a child."

  • In what context would you use the Japanese word(s) for missing or unaccounted for? 欠落や行方不明? Dec 26, 2013 at 1:06
  • 1
    That depends on the context but generally you can just say ~がない or ~が見つからない. 欠落 is way too formal and has more nuance than that, and 行方不明 is used with missing persons.
    – ssb
    Dec 26, 2013 at 2:39

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