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I found this sentence on https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E3%81%84%E3%82%89%E3%81%A3%E3%81%97%E3%82%83%E3%82%8B and it struck me as odd.

山田【やまだ】さんいらっしゃいますでしょうか。

Listening to my co-workers (business phone calls) I've noticed that most times they will drop the particle completely and I don't believe that I have ever heard them use 「が」. As a point of reference I would probably say something like 「〇〇さん、いらっしゃいますでしょうか?」.

My question: Is there a semantic difference between using 「は・が」or nothing at all? Also beyond the base semantics are there any connotations to using 〇〇さん「が・は」?

  • 山田さんがいらっしゃいますか is seeking anyone whose name happens to be Yamada, not seeking a certain person called Yamada. – user4092 Jul 21 '16 at 13:18
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The sentence:

「[山田]{やまだ}さんいらっしゃいますでしょう。」

is definitely more than weird and it is nothing native speakers would say. The particle needs to be 「は」, and never 「が」.

To ask if someone is in, the topic marker is always 「は」. Admittedly, though, using 「が」 to do so is a very common mistake among Japanese-learners.

There is, however, a situation in which 「Name + が」 can be used with 「いらっしゃる/いらっしゃいます」 in a statement if not a question. That is when you have just seen or found someone and want to tell another person that he is here/there. You will say:

「山田さんいらっしゃいます。」

This is completely correct and you cannot use 「は」 here.

  • I've heard that you can use 「は」to contrast that something is here but something else isn't here. Ex: プリンターはあるけどパソコンがない… Is this same grammar point usable for people? Ex: 田中さんはいますがジョンさんがいません。 – Leo Jul 20 '16 at 1:08
  • @Leo you should use は after both things, not は and then が – weirdalsuperfan Sep 30 at 6:12
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    ^ weird al, 「プリンターはあるけどパソコンない」/「プリンターはあるけどパソコンない」、「田中さんはいますがジョンさんいません」/「田中さんはいますがジョンさんいません」 ... Both versions sound okay. They'd be used in different situations. – Chocolate Oct 1 at 0:35
  • Would you still call that a contrastive usage? If so, what's the difference? – weirdalsuperfan Oct 1 at 4:06

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