We all know that 「ある」is to be used with inanimate objects and 「いる」with animate, living things. However, almost all examples of usage that I've seen thus far is in the context of something or someone being there. There is a cat there. There is a man there.

What happens when it comes to listing the ownership of items? If I were to say that I own a cat, does the rule to use「いる」still apply?



(I get that usually one would use かっています here, but this just for the sake of example)

In this case, the former sounds wrong (at least to me), even though it follows the rule. The latter vice versa.

In another example, what if I don't physically own something, but rather have someone?



Both the above sound correct to me, even though in both example, the subject is living and 「いる」should be used.

Can someone clarify?

  • 3
    Today, I said 「でっかい魚がる!」 at the aquarium. When I returmed home and opened the fridge, I said 「でっかい魚がる!」.
    – user4032
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 7:08
  • ある's version is a dated expression.
    – user4092
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


We don't say いる when someone owns something whatever they are but it is used in indicating the existence of something animate. I feel 私は猫が一匹いる is a bit unnatural to me but 私には猫が一匹いる and 私の家(に)は猫が一匹いる would be more natural.

The second your two sentences are unnatural because ある isn't used with animate objects as you know but いる is natural like 私は彼女がいます.

In addition, いる has some meaning like 要る(need), 射る(shoot), 炒る(roast).

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