In a recent article 仕事で外国に行く前にPCR検査の予約ができるようにする from NHK Easy Japanese I found this sentence, (which I give here in a bit abbreviated form):


I believe the sentence could be translated roughly as

 "It's necessary to verify with a PCR test that the virus didn't hit INSTEAD of testing after arriving at the respective locations." 

But I have trouble to fully understand this sentence, because I do not know where the いる from 決まった場所にいる代わりに is connecting to.

Thanks a lot!


Looking just at the first part:


Let's break it down word by word and then reconstitute it.

The pieces


Verb: 着【つ】く (tsuku, "to arrive") in the conjunctive ~て conjugation.


Particle: "because; from". Following a verb in the conjunctive ~て conjugation, this means "after [VERB]ing,..."


Noun: "a while". Strictly speaking, this word is an adverb, but it appears to be lexicalizing (becoming a different kind of word) in some contexts as a noun, perhaps similar to how 近【ちか】く has shifted in some contexts from the adverbial form 近【ちか】く (chikaku, "nearly, closely, in a nearby manner") of adjective 近【ちか】い (chikai, "near, nearby") to become noun 近【ちか】く (chikaku, "the nearby area").

Particle: possessive, also used to allow one noun to modify a following noun.


Noun: "space between; time span"


Verb: 決【き】まる (kimaru, "to be decided, to be determined") in the past-tense or completed-aspect ~た conjugation.


Noun: "place"

Particle: locative, "in, at"


Verb: plain or dictionary form of the verb 居【い】る (iru, "to be" for animate nouns). For grammar geeks, this is technically here the 連体形 (rentaikei) or "attributive form" used to modify a following noun, identical in modern Japanese to the 終止形 (shūshikei, "terminal or conclusive form"), a.k.a. "dictionary form".


Noun: "stead; replacement". Derived as the 連用形 (ren'yōkei, "continuative form", sometimes also called the "stem form" or "gerundive" in English materials) of the verb 代【か】わる (kawaru, "to be a replacement for something, to take the place of something, to stand in something's stead")

Particle: locative, "in, at"

The pieces put together

[着いて]{arriving }[から]{after }[しばらく]{while }[の]{'s }[間]{span of time }、[決まった]{determined  }[場所]{place }[に]{in }[いる]{be }[代わり]{stead }[に]{in}、
for a while after arriving, instead of being in the determined place,

The initial question again

As stated in the question header, you were having a

Problem understanding the action of いる in 決【き】まった場所【ばしょ】にいる代【か】わりに

Simply speaking, the いる is just the verb "to be" for animate subjects.


  • "to be" (for a person or animal)


  • Someone is in a place


  • Someone is in a previously decided place


  • Instead of someone being in a previously decided place

Further down, you also state,

But I have trouble to fully understand this sentence, because I do not know where the いる from 決まった場所にいる代わりに is connecting to.

I'm not sure I know what you mean by "connecting", so I'll try answering both of the possible interpretations I can think of. :)

  • Looking earlier in the sentence:
    The verb いる here is again just "to be". The subject of the verb is unclear form your sample, but from what little text we have, I can say that it's most likely the same subject as the verb 着【つ】く earlier in the sentence. So whoever it is that's "arriving" is the same one who is "being".

  • Looking later in the sentence:
    This verb is used to modify the noun 代わり. 代わりに is used as a kind of set phrase meaning "instead of", similar to how the English "instead" derives from the preposition "in" and the noun "stead" (meaning "place" or "position", as in, "in someone's or something's place"). When translating into English, the grammar is different, so rather than the plain form of "to be", we have to use the gerund form "being". See The pieces put together above for one possible translation.

Please comment if the above does not address your question.

  • 1
    thanks a lot! The sentence itself starts with "16の国と地域の多くでは、" so there are no people mentioned in the sentence, or even the paragraph before. So I guess the subject must then be by implication "the people who are travelling" (from and to the 16 countries), but the (this) subject is not being explicitly mentioned (neither in the sentence nor in text itself). And this is what got me confused. I have assumed that the subject should be somewhere. – Quit007 Jul 29 '20 at 23:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.