The sentence


translates to

I have a couple of questions.

But I assume the more literal translation is something like:

Questions, there exist two.

Question: If my literal translation is correct, isn't "two" acting something like the direct object of the verb "to exist"? And if that's the case, why isn't "two" marked with a direct object particle, as in:


More generally, I'm starting to notice (the very basic, in retrospect) fact that not all nouns are marked with particles in Japanese sentences. When & why they aren't is becoming mysterious to me.


1 Answer 1


Numerals act adverbially a small majority of the time in Japanese.

You might have learned 「2個のリンゴを食べた」, but I'd say 「リンゴを2個食べた」 is more common. ある is an intransitive verb, and you cannot put an を after the number in your sentence, nor in the one I've provided. While you could probably put a は, that would imply 'I have two questions (and a different number of something else)'.

  • So a more accurate (and super literal) translation of "質問が2つあります" would be "Questions are twoly" (with "twoly = two + ly" being an adverbalized "two")?
    – George
    Jul 28, 2022 at 22:41
  • 1
    @George I guess, but like I said in the edited version of my other answer to you, these hyperliteral translations you're trying to use aren't actually very helpful in grasping the internal logic of the language.
    – Angelos
    Jul 28, 2022 at 22:42

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