I think that these sentences might have similar meanings:

  1. 犬{いぬ}についての記事{きじ}が朝日{あさひ}新聞{しんぶん}に書いてあります。
  2. 犬についての記事が朝日新聞に書かれています。

I think that the direct translations are:

  1. There is an article about dogs that is written in the Asahi Shinbun (there is no chance to specify the author).
  2. An article about dogs has been written in the Asahi Sinbun (it is possible to mention the author).

Does each at least have correct grammar?
What is the nuanced difference?
What criteria are used to decide which to say?

  • 1
    書いてある seems to be commonly used, while with other verbs 〜てある is not so common, right? Can someone suggest other examples? Thanks.
    – Abi
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 19:52

2 Answers 2


Both are grammatically correct and they both mean "An article about dogs has been written in the Asahi Sinbun" though the former can't specify who wrote it as you say. The former (書いてある version) seems to apear often in everyday conversation.


Your implications are the opposite. Passive in 2. is a common strategy to avoid mentioning the subject. 1. is at least not passive in the normal sense. You can have an explicit subject in 1 if you change the 記事が to 記事をwithout changing the verb form.

I don't see any basis in using "there is ..." versus "an article is ..." to express 1 versus 2.

The original sentences are both correct.

  • right. Subject hiding is also possible in English. But, it is possible to mention the subject in #2, but impossible in #1?
    – user312440
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 12:32
  • You can express the underlying subject even in passives using by-phrases or 'に(よって)'. But other than that, you cannot in 2.
    – user7158
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 12:35
  • right. You can (optionally) specify the subject in passive voice by using a preposition in the predicate, but how do you specify the subject in #1? The helping verb is "ある".
    – user312440
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 12:38
  • While I think that this might be a good answer, I need a few example sentences (with translations) to fully understand.
    – user312440
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 12:12

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