Today I saw this sentence:


I didn't understand why that would be the case instead of イラクに because if it is で I feel like it could be rewritten:


which just sounds like Iraq is war.

Is there a reason for this? Is it an expression or something like that, can it be rewritten the way I wrote it and if so could you say 戦争はイラクです?

Thanks for your help

  • So where did you see this sentence ? Although @Chocolate answer is correct, I would more see this kind of use with past or future tenses, as in 今朝イラクで地震があった, so it'd be nice to have a context.
    – desseim
    Jan 21, 2014 at 13:34
  • In my preloaded ANKI deck. Its got 5 stars so it shooould be good I think.
    – Nathan
    Jan 21, 2014 at 13:59

1 Answer 1


イラクで戦争がある。≒ イラクで戦争が起こる。

The ある means [起]{お}こる, [発生]{はっせい}する, [行]{おこな}われる (meaning #12 in goo辞書)

イラクにXXがある。(= There's XX in Iraq.)
イラクでXXがある。(= XX occurs/takes place/will be held in Iraq.)


戦争はイラクである。doesn't sound very natural but would mean "The war will take place in Iraq" as a response to 戦争はどこであるんだ?(Where will the war take place?). It can't be interpreted as "The war is Iraq" nor rewritten as 戦争はイラクです.

"how would you differentiate the である that shows what something is and the である that shows where something is"
I think it's all up to the context.


If you said 僕の故郷は京都である, then I'd interpret it as "My hometown is Kyoto". If you said 今度の会議は京都である, then I'd interpret it as "We'll have the next meeting in Kyoto".

  • I figured as much that that was the case, however there are a few questions still unanswered such as, can it become 'です" is rearranged like I wrote in my question. Also, how would you differentiate the である that shows what something is and the である that shows where something is.
    – Nathan
    Jan 22, 2014 at 1:35
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure you cannot say イラクは戦争です。If you want to use ですます体, it would become イラクで戦争があります。 In iraq, there is a war is a sentence where ある is the verb -- not the writing verb である. They just can be written the same (though I think it would be normal to structure it as XでYがある than YがXである for the ある constructions).
    – virmaior
    Jan 22, 2014 at 7:27

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