I was wondering if there's a difference in usage between 神様がいる and 神様がある. In both cases, I mean specifically the meaning "There is a God", either as a statement of the kind "God exists", or as in "There is a God on the top of that mountain."

Both instances are very common results on Google. However, I've been told by two Japanese that, in this case, "神様がいる" is the only correct form, since God is considered to be an animate entity. Also, one of them suggested that the structure "神様がある" could be used to mean "'to have' a God" (similar to "僕は姉がある"), though it might sound a bit unnatural. Additionally, some results are similar to "神様が、 ある日何々を言った…", but my guess is that they make up less than half of the total for ~がある.

So, if only 神様がいる is correct, how can one account for the many examples employing ~がある?


3 Answers 3


We hardly say 「神様がある」 as "There is a God. / God exists." But you can say 「~神様(というもの)がある」 as "there is a god called ~"

From some of the Google results,


「天神様」 here means an idol called Tenjin-sama. So it means "In most folk-toy districts, there are idols of Tenjin god".


「エンタの神様」 is a name of a TV show.


「ある」 is 「或る」 in this sentence, not 「有る/在る」. http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/7648/m0u/


It reads "I remembered there was a shrine of soybean paste in Kumamoto. I see there are different kinds/types of God." In fact, this might be confusing for non-natives. When you can replace 「神様」 with 「神様というもの」 in the sentense, you can use 「ある」. Otherewise, you should use 「いる」.

As for "僕は姉がある", I don't uderstand what this means; it's not unnatural but does not make sense.

  • 神様(というもの)がある in English means "There is a god", "God exists", etc.
    – Jesse Good
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 9:33
  • @JesseGood Japanese don't say it that way. The suffix '様' is mostly used for a person. You can say 神は存在する but not 神はある. No, never. You can use it but instantly Japanese people would recognize you as a foreigner.
    – Teno
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 9:38
  • Um, you use it in your answer, are you saying your answer is incorrect?
    – Jesse Good
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 9:44
  • @JesseGood 「神様(というもの)がある」 can be translated to "There is a god" but not the other way. When Japanese translate "There is a god", it becomes 「神様がいる」 not 「神様がある」
    – Teno
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 9:47
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    @JesseGood Ah, I wrote 「~神様(というもの)がある」. "" is 「何々」, meaning an arbitrary prefix in Japanese. If it causes confusion, feel free to edit the answer.
    – Teno
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 10:20

In Japanese Christian churches, we say 神様がいる since the Christian bible says that God created man in His own image. However, more often than 〜いる we use 〜おられる to show respect.

  • 神様は私たちとともにいます。 → God is with us.
  • 苦しい時こそ、確実に神様はあなたのそばにおられる。 → Certainly God is by your side especially during hard times.
  • Interesting. I didn't know about this use of おる. Thanks! Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 18:15

Since 様 is used when referring to people and most people would think of 神様 as being animate 神様がいる should be used.

Also, please notice your google results are off:



Please read Google counts may not be as reliable as you imagine.

  • 1
    @Jesse_Good Thanks for pointing that out. With this and the other replies (and links), I think there's no longer a case for 神様がある. Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 19:23
  • 1
    @ArthurMelo: Yes, in general I agree (I changed my answer to reflect this).
    – Jesse Good
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 20:19

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