5

My textbook says the correct structure is

WHEREにWHOがいる

For example:

日本にかおるさんがいる

But I've seen some webpages with examples such as:

かおるさんは日本にいる

So... are they both correct? Do they have different meanings? Is one of them wrong?

4

Both are correct but their meaning isn't exactly the same.

An easy way to understand it is to think of them as answers to different kind of question :

庭に犬がいる。

(There is) a dog in the garden.

Can be the answer to :

庭に何がいる?

What's in the garden?

Whereas :

犬は庭にいる。

The dog is in the garden.

Can be the answer to :

犬はどこにいる?

Where is the dog?

In the former example, the word precedeing が is the new information (which in this case can be translated with the indefinite article "a"), the hearer and the speaker both know which garden they are talking about.

EDIT : This distinction between known and unknown information is probably 100% true when に is followed by は (庭には...) but 庭に犬がいる can also mean "there is a dog in a garden" with both informations being new to the hearer.

In the latter example, the word preceding は is the known information (translated with the definite article "the" here, they know which dog they are talking about), and the word preceding に is the new one.

So in your case :

(誰が日本にいる?)日本にかおるさんがいる。 

(Who is in Japan?) (It is) Kaoru (that) is in Japan.

VS

(かおるさんはどこにいる?)かおるさんは日本にいる。

(Where is Kaoru?) Kaoru is in Japan.

You can find a similar construction with だ :

僕は学生だ。 (What are you?) I'm a student.

VS

僕が学生だ。 (Who is the student?) I'm the student.

  • Thanks a lot for the answer. Is the word order important? My book says that usually with ある/いる it's あそこにお酒がある, but I've seen in some places, for example, かおるさんは日本にいる – Daniel Aug 29 '14 at 11:06
  • I think it's usually AにBがある and BはAにある but it's not mandatory. – Alox Aug 29 '14 at 11:21

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