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If not, what would the sentence be if I want to ask "Where is B?"

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    If that's what you want to ask, then the question is just fine. It's the answer that is not quite natural. Why did you have to specify the answer?
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 23:50
  • @aguijonazo The answer was taken from my textbook and I was required to come up with a possible question, and the question given was “Aに何がありますか“, so I was wondering if it’s grammatically correct or semantically appropriate to ask “where is B” when the answer is “AにBがありまづ”.
    – user112563
    Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 0:03
  • If the sentence at issue is taken from a textbook, I strongly recommend that you include that piece of information as well as other relevant details in your question.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 1:04

1 Answer 1

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Bはどこですか is certainly an appropriate way to ask “Where is B?” What is not appropriate here is AにBがあります as a response to that question.

本はどこですか
Where is the book?

? テーブルの上に本があります。
? There is a book on the table.

Two pieces of information are involved here.

A: place

B: object

The first person knows what object he is asking about and also assumes the other person will understand what it is he is referring to. What he doesn’t know is where it is located. In other words, the object is known and the place is unknown. This is why he puts forward the object (本) as the topic of the sentence, marking it with は, and uses the question word for “where” (どこ) where the place is expected.

The response, on the other hand, marks the object with が. This makes it sound like the object (本) is the new information, rather than the place (机の上). The sentence is understood as talking about the existence of an hitherto unknown object in a particular (possibly already known) place, rather than the whereabout of a known object as expected from the question.

The response should be either

(本は)テーブルの上です。
It (= the book) is on the table.

or

(本は)テーブルの上にあります。
It (= the book) is on the table.

Note that the object (本) is marked with は as it was in the question. Since it is already established as the topic of the dialogue, 本は can be omitted altogether. In fact, the response sounds more natural when it is omitted unless there is some reason to emphasize it, for example when you want to put the book in contrast with something else that is in some other place.

Aに何がありますか is asking what is in a particular place. The place is known and the object is unknown. Hence the question word for “what” (何) where the object is expected.

テーブルの上に何がありますか。
What is on the table?

(テーブルの上に)本があります。
A book is (on the table).

本, which is marked with が, is the new information in the response.

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