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In any previous language I have studied (mostly European languages), the verb "to have" is always one of the top 5 most common verbs alongside others like to be, to go, to come, etc. In Japanese, this doesn't seem to be the case, judging from word frequency and suggested lists of "most important verbs." Apparently motsu is simply not as common in Japanese as to have is in English, or avoir in French, and so on.

This is very counterintuitive for me. How do people phrase simple common things such as "Do you have five dollars?"

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    Surely いる/ある are high up on your list? When it comes to Japanese you can pretty much forget all the intuition you've got from European languages. Apr 1, 2018 at 8:17
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    Yeah... maybe you're just noticing the fact that the role played by that word in other languages is divided between several verbs in Japanese. It's not like the concept is less common.
    – Leebo
    Apr 1, 2018 at 8:31
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    How do people phrase simple common things such as "Do you have five dollars?" -- 「5ドルある?」「5ドルない?」とか・・・
    – Chocolate
    Apr 2, 2018 at 1:59

1 Answer 1

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Do you have 5 dollars?
Yes, thanks for asking.

Not really what you meant to ask. I don't know how a Japanese person would actually respond if you asked:

5ドル持っていますか

But I'm sure it would be more polite to ask:

Will you lend me five dollars?
5ドル貸してもらえますか (Can I receive the benefit of you lending me 5 dollars)

Not really sure what your question is. But 'have' can have many different meanings, and there is no reason that all the meanings should map to the same word in Japanese. I assume that いる/ある are pretty high on your list of common verbs though.

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  • Like if you're telling a visiting friend (who is not from your area) that a subway ticket will cost $3, then say "Do you have $3?" (to pay for the subway). Apr 4, 2018 at 10:33
  • I think chocolate's comment on your question (using ある) does the job in that instance. Apr 4, 2018 at 21:11
  • But that means "to be"....clearly I have a lot to learn. Apr 5, 2018 at 2:25
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    @Aerovistae ある doesn't really mean 'to be'; that role is played by だ/です. The verb ある indicates existence. You can think of it as the verb 'to be located' and by extension 'to possess/have'. Apr 5, 2018 at 18:49

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