My learning program gave me this sentence:

私 は 彼女 の 考え 方 に 就いて 興味 が 有り ます。

Translated as "I'd be interested to know what she thinks."

However i've been lead to believe that should be imasu at the end and no arimasu, as the person is in reference here.

Is it just one of those "rules" that isn't really that important in real life? If not, can someone explain why it was used here?


  • 3
    The subject of あります here is 興味
    – Angelos
    Jul 25, 2020 at 23:57
  • Ok, i think I get it. I thought it was implied in the sentence that "I" am the subject, as I am the one who is curious as in 興味 to what she is thinking, and as a living thing, i was expecting imasu form. Really confusing to me. Someone has explained it well below though, so i'll digest it. thanks.
    – sups12
    Jul 26, 2020 at 0:01
  • No, 私 is not the subject but the topic of this Japanese sentence. As Aeon Akechi said, the grammatical subject that corresponds to あります is 興味.
    – naruto
    Jul 26, 2020 at 4:06

2 Answers 2



Although this sentence is usually translated as "I'm interested in ~" with "I" as the subject, the grammatical subject of the original sentence is not 私. A very literal translation of this sentence is:

As for me, interest exists regarding her way of thinking.

As you can see, the subject of あります is 興味, not 私 nor 考え方. Of course 興味 is an inanimate object. In other words, this sentence is about the existence of someone's interest, not about the existence of someone ("me" = 私). Since this sentence is not about where I am or whether I exist, you cannot use いる here.

Japanese is a topic-prominent language, and one sentence can have both a は-marked topic and a が-marked subject. You may have learned this fact using a sentence like 彼は背が高い ("He is tall") or ゾウは鼻が長い ("An elephant has a long nose"). Please keep in mind that the subject is 背 and 鼻, respectively, no matter how this type of sentence is usually translated into English.

  • This is a nice answer about the sentence in question - can you perhaps please follow up on the title itself? "Are there exceptions to this?" - e.g. while the following is about 有る Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar states "When aru is used to express the idea of having and the object is animate, that object must be someone who maintains a very close relationship with the possessor, such as a family member, a relative or a friend." (example given is 私には子供が三人ある) - is this actually used (and nowadays)? By everyone or specific people? Or should I create a new question for this?
    – NoxArt
    Jul 27, 2020 at 19:03
  • 1
    @NoxArt It's been asked already. Do these help? japanese.stackexchange.com/q/6474/5010 / japanese.stackexchange.com/q/2228/5010 / japanese.stackexchange.com/q/5147/5010 / Personally I think 子供が3人ある almost always sounds odd these days.
    – naruto
    Jul 28, 2020 at 2:24
  • Sorry! Don't know why I forgot to search, thank you!
    – NoxArt
    Jul 28, 2020 at 3:04

いる vs ある maybe a fictitious character on a TV screen is いる (Mickey Mouse) , but a stuffed animal of the character... may be either, are we pretending it is alive (with a young kid) could go either way.

Other than that, if it is alive and animated = いる <=> not animated = ある


  • 考え方 is not a subject in that sentence.
    – Leebo
    Jul 26, 2020 at 0:28
  • yeah, saw the above comment and then reread the sentence, sorry about that.
    – Reed Day
    Jul 26, 2020 at 1:05
  • Thank you for the feedback I see now that is the case, I hope the rest of the answer stands as reputable. Thank you.
    – Reed Day
    Jul 26, 2020 at 1:07

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