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I'm perfectly comfortable using いる、ある in Japanese, except today I came across one question of ambiguity. People say ロボットがいる, which makes sense given that they move as if they were alive.

For dead people, such as 飛行機の墜落事故の死亡者, would it be more natural to say いる or ある for the deceased victims?

  • How about 死亡者が出る? – Yang Muye Jul 11 '15 at 12:21
  • I can't give a definitive answer, but... I would say neither 死亡者がいる nor 死亡者がある. Depending on the context, I would say 死亡者が発生した or 死亡者の存在が確認された etc. Sorry I can't explain why. – eltonjohn Jul 11 '15 at 12:25
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Saying 死亡者がいる is not bad.

いる is used for someone/something seems to be able to have own will,
so you can use いる for a person, an animal, and even if for a robot.

If your subject is 死体 (dead body), saying 死体がある is correct.

死亡者が出る is not mistake, but 犠牲者{ぎせいしゃ}が出る is more naturally.
Use carefully 犠牲者, it means implicitly that the victims are already dead in the context of an accident.

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