In Japanese, when describing the location of something you can say either arimasu and desu. E.g.

a) Resutoran-wa ik-kai-ni arimasu


b) Resutoran-wa ik-kai desu

What's the difference between a & b?

(a) uses ni, so that stresses the location. (b) uses desu so it sounds more polite. Is this correct?

Please note, this is a question about location. It is not a question about the difference between arimasu (exists/to be: non animate) and imasu (exists/to be: animate).

2 Answers 2


They're both pretty polite, but I think you could say that there's an implied quantitative difference.

For example, when you say b 'restoran wa ikkai desu' to me, that sounds like the person is implying that there is only one restaurant, and it's on the first floor. Like 'As for the restaurant, it's on the first floor'.

But when you say a 'restoran wa ikkai ni arimasu' then that sound like it implies that there are one or more restaurants on the first floor. 'There is/are (a) restaurant/s on the first floor'.

Of course, Japanese is very vague so there's no singular/plural tell about the restaurants, and there's no definitive law about this -restoran wa ikkai desu could very well mean multiple restaurants are on the first floor too, there's nothing wrong with it grammatically- but that's what the implication sounds like to me.


I don't think there is any difference, other than that (b) is shorter and more common (both are very common). No difference in politeness because both use 丁寧語.

Source: Japanese native

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .