4

Consider the following,

  1. 机の上に本があります。
  2. 本は机の上です。

What I don't understand is the second sentence which is another form for the first one. It is caused by the fact that there is no preposition に in the second one.

If you don't understand what I meant, let consider the following sentences. The first two sentences are understandable because they have English equivalents. But it is not the case for the last one.

  • This is a book. これは本です。
  • This book is red. この本は赤いです。
  • This book is on the table. この本は机の上です。I never read and hear この本は机の上にです。in which there is に inserted between 机の上 and です.

Can anybody here explain why?

  • In fact, the で part comes from にて. The copula in Classical Japanese was なり, which was a contraction of にあり. But later て was inserted in between. That's origin of である and だ. – Yang Muye Jun 4 '15 at 9:44
  • この本は机の上にです is "this book should be onto the desk". – user4092 Jun 4 '15 at 13:24
2

You can say:

本はどこですか? Where's the book? (=本はどこにありますか?)
机の上です。 It's on the desk. (=机の上にあります。)
本は机の上です。 The book is on the desk. (=本は机の上にあります。)

and no one would think you're saying "The book is upper part of a desk".
Similar examples are:

お父さんは二階です。 Dad is upstairs.
太郎くんは学校です。 Taro is away at school.
姉は今、ロンドンです。 My sister is in London now.

You can even say:

僕はウナギです。(I'll have eel.)
私はオレンジジュース。(I'll have orange juice.)

at a cafe or restaurant, and no one would think you're saying you're an eel or orange juice.

*この本は机の上にです。

is incorrect.

  • How about 私がウナギです。? – Friendly Ghost Jun 4 '15 at 13:26
  • Yeah, to ウナギのお客様(はどちらですか)?, you might respond with 私がウナギです, 私です, ウナギは私です, etc. – Chocolate Jun 4 '15 at 13:55
  • 1
    この本は机の上にです is a barely grammatical phrase you might use when you're really forced to distinguish "to the surface of the desk" and "from the surface of the desk". – broccoli forest Jun 4 '15 at 20:09

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