I understand what the verb まつ (wait) means fairly clearly but my book has no example of いる in a sentence and its definition seems to be similar except it uses が and に as particles for some reason?

Could anyone give me any example of using いる and why it needs が and に instead of を and は.

  • いる - (for living things) to be, to have. 駅に犬がいます。There is a dog at the station. 私には猫がいます。I have a cat. There's another いる that means need ... しかしそのためには、お金が要る。But for that, we need money. Then まつ is wait ... 駅で犬がまってる。A dog is waiting at the station. I'm not sue why these thins seem to mean the same thing to you.
    – Angelos
    Jun 2, 2018 at 19:48
  • the definitions in my book are confusing is all one says to stay at the other to wait at in English those are very similar things with no context. PS persona 5 ftw.
    – Faust
    Jun 2, 2018 at 19:52
  • 1
    I wouldn’t use that book anymore if I were you. If t can not convey the difference in まつ and いる without you being confused. Oh boy, I fear for the more similar verbs you’re going to come across... Jun 2, 2018 at 21:57
  • can you add the sentences that are confusing you so we actually have something specific to go from? Jun 3, 2018 at 20:26

2 Answers 2


I think I know what you are referring to. A while ago, I was first into my Japanese classroom, at which point my Japanese teacher asked me something like 「ここに5分ぐらいいますか?」, to which I was perplexed and didn't have a ready answer. The main source of my confusion was the nature of Japanese 'present tense' expressions also having a 'future tense' aspect. I will expound on that somewhat.

いる generally means 'for an animal or human to be present (exist), in general or in a specific location'. This can be used to imply remaining in a place as well. In English we might say "Will you be here for 5 minutes?" rather than "Would you wait here for 5 minutes?". The same is true in Japanese. Below are equivalent examples of the corresponding English question in Japanese:

5分ぐらい(私を)待ってくれませんか? = 5分ぐらい(ここに)いてくれませんか?

While the above sentences are fairly equivalent in overall meaning, the main difference is that one is transitive (active) and the other is intransitive (inactive).

When using the word 待つ, this is an active process (waiting for X). Therefore the particles used must reflect this (ここで待つ / 私を待つ).

When using the word いる, this is an inactive process. You are simply 'being'. Therefore, the corresponding particles used would not be the same (ここにいる / 私がいる). Although いる seems to be more readily translatable as 'stay', rather than 'be', this is a distinction that does not apply in Japanese. In this sense, 'stay' will also be intransitive.

The が and に are used for simple state of existence verbs like いる, while は and を are used for verbs where an action is being performed.

With more advanced sentence constructions the particles can be fungible (は vs. が, etc.). For your question, however, it would be helpful to have specific examples of sentences where you are unsure of why a particular particle is used rather than another.

  • To clear up terminology: 待つ is actually intransitive (ie you do it to yourself, unlike e.g. 待たせる), but is "operational" or "active," whereas 居る is "affective" or "stative," and is indeed intransitive. Jun 3, 2018 at 7:50
  • I definitely appreciate the comment. I have found more support for classifying 待つ as transitive rather than intransitive, with some defining it as an 'extraordinary transitive'. I would be happy to edit if necessary. Could you list your source?
    – BJCUAI
    Jun 3, 2018 at 17:20
  • The earlier comment is mistaken; 待つ is definitely transitive. It is listed as such in dictionaries and often takes an argument marked with を. It is true that a few arguments marked with を are not analyzed as objects by all inguists, for example when を marks a path or a point of departure, but that doesn't seem to be the case in examples like 私を待つ.
    – user1478
    Jun 11, 2018 at 11:06

まつ 待つ 待ちます means “to wait”.

いる います means “to exist” (animate objects such as people and animals).

ある あります means “to exist” for inanimate objects and is not to be confused with いる.

もつ 持つ 持ちます means “to hold” but both ある and 持つ can be used for “to have”. This is not to be confused with 待つ even though the sounds and kanji are similar.

待っている mean to exist in wait or “waiting”

Thus ここで待ちます means “I will wait here”. ここで待っている means “I am waiting here”. ここにいる means “I exist here” or simply “I am here”.

Grammar Notes:

The use of particles に is for a place of existence and で is for a place of an action.

In general “verbてform-いる” is the present participle tense for an action that is ongoing equivalent to “verb(root)-ing” in English. It can also be used for habitual actions.

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