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As far as I'm aware, とある means 'some':

とある会社の従業員
An employee of some company

And just ある can be used to mean the same thing.

Does that give a different level of formality? A more 'direct' or pointed way to referring to the following noun?

1 Answer 1

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They are the same thing. However, 「ある」 is more common nowadays, especially among the younger generation.

Sources:

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  • Thanks for the sources. To confirm: とある apparently isn't used at all in daily speech right now? One answer states that they find it a pompous thing to say, though I don't think I see the same sentiment in other answers. Is that an actual thing or just that person's opinion? (Or were they referring to とある making the noun seem more important?)
    – idlackage
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 2:51

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