I understand that である is most commonly used to replace だ/です at the end of a sentence in written expressions.

But outside this usage, I can't find much explanation on how to use this structure. In most cases, it seems to be interchangeable with の、のを、だった etc.

From what I can infer when reading a lot of example sentences, である means “as being” “exist as” “is”, I'm not confident with this interpretation though.

母が弁護士であることを誇りに思う。I'm proud that my mother (exists as) a lawyer. であることを can be replaced with なのを

自分が一人であるのに気づく。I realized that I live alone. (exist alone) であるのに can be replaced with なのに

子供の頃嫌いであった食べ物が、大人になって好きになるという話をよく聞く。I often hear that you grow to like food you hated (exists as hated) during your childhood であった can be replaced with だった

編集者と出版社である人は私のいとこです。The editor and publisher (exists as) is my cousin. である can be replaced with の

彼はフランス人であるに違いない。I'm certain that he's (exists as) French. である can be omitted

これは赤ペンだ。黒いペンでもある。This is a red pen. It's also (also exists as) a black pen. でもある cannot be replaced here

With this understanding, I tried to make my own sentence and I don't understand why it's wrong:

お金持ちであることは幸せな人生を送るわけではない。Being (existing as) a rich person does not mean you'll lead a happy life.

How does である work in these situations and what does it mean?

  • @あらまあ I understand ある = ござる and である = でござる = です = だ. But I can't clearly define how and when to use である. When can I replace particles/structures with である (as shown above)? In what situations must I use である (can't replace with anything else)? People marked the sentence unnatural on hinative and corrected it to お金持ちであるからといって幸せな人生を送るわけではない。Perhaps they might be wrong? – shade549 May 31 '19 at 7:57
  • 2
    They didn't correct your use of である, they simply offered what they feel is a more natural way of phrasing the sentence. Everyone has their own opinion on how things should be phrased to sound more natural. For example, I would prefer to phrase the whole thing as 「お金持ちになっても幸せな人生を送るのは決まりではない」, but that is just my opinion. Anyway, I feel like you will be fine in pretty much any case I can think of if you just consider the intended meaning of your expression to mean「to be XYZ」. ( Also note that だ is not the plain form of です, see japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/22939#22943 ) – あらまあ May 31 '19 at 8:29

Your understanding is correct. The only reason your sentence doesn't sound natural is small grammatical inconsistencies.

You can say お金持ちであることが幸せな人生を意味するわけではない or お金持ちであることが幸せな人生を呼び寄せるわけではない. I.e. お金持ちであること is the state of being rich, and a state cannot do 人生を送る. However, it can imply things/cause things etc. and thus the examples work.

You can also say お金持ちである人が皆、幸せな人生を送るわけではない. Here, お金持ちである人 is a person who is rich, and thus can 人生を送る.

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