One solution that I heard is aru can be used for people you're not close to and iru for people you are close to, so like a humble thing, but, I don't know if it's actually said, and aru is for unliving things, but is this really into depth, and I just didn't get into depth? By the way, this isn't a clone, because all the things I have searched up are dumbed down into one meaning but no explanation really... To stay, to keep, but why aru isn't?

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    Are you asking about ~がある vs ~がいる, or ~である vs ~でいる? They are different topics.
    – naruto
    Mar 30 at 0:16
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    care to provide example sentences? Not much to go off of here.
    – andrewb
    Mar 30 at 7:08
  • @andrewb please try to be more specific with your question. For starters, you question lacks a verb. Why what ?
    – jarmanso7
    Mar 30 at 7:19
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    @jarmanso7 did you mean to tag OP and tagged me instead? :)
    – andrewb
    Mar 30 at 8:29
  • okay so for example, 人が幸せ(a random adjective)です, i thought aru was supposed to be for non living things, and apparently 人が幸せでいる is different?
    – Star Peep
    Mar 30 at 11:20

1 Answer 1


As I said in the comment section, you must see the particle before ある/いる. "ある is for inanimate things and いる is for animate things" is a rule that is relevant when ある/いる is used as an existence verb. This rule has nothing to do with the usage of ある and いる because these constructions do not express the existence of something/someone in the first place.

Basically ~である is a stilted copula, i.e., a literary version of ~だ. ~でいる is a copula in progressive aspect, i.e., "to stay/keep X" in English. See: What is the difference between でいる and である in this example? / What is the meaning/grammar behind noun + でいる?

Here is a very simple summary:

  • Xいる。
    There is X.
    (X is a person, animal, etc.)
  • Xある。
    There is X.
    (X is an inanimate object.)
  • AXある。
    A is X. (literary/formal)
    (X is a noun, a na-adjective or a no-adjective)
  • AXいる。
    A stays X. / A keeps being X.
    (X is a noun, a na-adjective or a no-adjective)

And simplest examples:

  • いる。
    There is a cat.
    (猫 is an animal)
  • ある。
    There is a book.
    (本 is an inanimate object)
  • 学生ある。
    I am a student.
    (である is a stilted だ)
  • 元気いる。
    I am keeping healthy. / I'm doing well.
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    Does でいる have the same stilted feel as である? Mar 30 at 16:34

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