In the sentence:


would I use

在る or 有る?

(I know that today it's almost always written in Kana) Thanks in advance :)!


2 Answers 2


有る is for possession; 在る is for existence. Though there can be some overlap. And 或る (even though you didn't ask) is actually an adjective for "a particular/certain", like in ある日に....

So in this case, I'm mostly certain it would be 有る since you "have" homework.

Here are some words that might help remember the difference:

  • 所有 → one's possessions; ownership
  • 有罪 → guilty; "having" guilt
  • 共有 → sharing; joint ownership
  • 有料 → something that costs money (as opposed to free 無料); "having" a cost
  • 有力 → strong; influential; "having" power

  • 所在 → whereabouts
  • 存在 → existence
  • 在日 → living/staying in Japan (particularly used for foreigners)
  • 現在 → the present (time)
  • 在庫 → inventory (merchandise)
  • I see, I didn't mention 或る since it wasn't logical in this example. I allready knew the difference in general, but wasn't getting it in this sentence, since it could mean: "Homework exist for me" instead of "I have homework" but obviously you can't directly translate like that. Thank you for your answer! Sep 25, 2019 at 16:50
  • I guess you have already acknowledged though, 在日{ざいにち} is normally used for foreigners' living in Japan especially Korean. Sep 25, 2019 at 22:12
  • @kimiTanaka: Yes, I know this, but it's not obvious to anyone reading my answer. I'll add it.
    – istrasci
    Sep 25, 2019 at 22:50

Just a little bit of background on this:

As you mentioned, it is generally written as ある these days. In the past, there was a clearer differentiation based on grammatical properties, i.e. that 有る was used in a transitive sense like Xを所有する ('to possess X'), whereas 在る was used in an intransitive sense like Xが存在する ('X exists'). However, that distinction seems to have become blurred somewhat since the Hiragana ある became dominant.

Nonetheless, you can make an argument that if you were to use kanji to represent ある, you could base your choice on those older usages mentioned above. In the case of your specific example, there is an implied subject to the sentence (私は is omitted but clearly understood) and an object to the sentence (宿題). This would mean that the transitive sense of 所有する would be a more appropriate choice.

Therefore the correct choice would be 有る - assuming that you are communicating the meaning 'I' the subject of the sentence, have homework today.

  • Thank you very much for your answer! Sep 25, 2019 at 16:48

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