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
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 9:44
  • この本は机の上にです is "this book should be onto the desk".
    – user4092
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 13:24

1 Answer 1


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.


is incorrect.

  • How about 私がウナギです。? Commented Jun 4, 2015 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
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 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". Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 20:09

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