Recently I learned the structure A: "something が何処に有りますか。"

But I have previously learned the structure B: "something は何処ですか。"

My understanding is that these 2 structures are identical in meaning.

My feeling is that structure B is more casual and hence less formal than structure A.

Is my understanding and feeling correct ?

Is there any nuanced difference between these 2 structures or are they completely interchangable ?

All insights welcome.

  • 2
    Do you mean 〜はどこにありますか, rather than 〜が? By the way, I would write both どこ and ある (or いる) in hiragana.
    – aguijonazo
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:42
  • @aguijonazo My textbook says to use が for this structure. 車があります。Does that sound incorrect to you ?
    – Kantura
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:59
  • 1
    No, but が doesn't go well with どこに.
    – aguijonazo
    Aug 4, 2022 at 8:53
  • @aguijonazo Interesting , thank you.
    – Kantura
    Aug 4, 2022 at 10:40
  • 2
    When you ask the location of something, you would expect the other person to know what you are asking the location of. You put it forward as a common topic between you two. Hence は. On the other hand, in a statement like 車があります, the existence of a car itself is new information. You need to tell what exists and this (車) cannot be a common topic at the time of utterance.
    – aguijonazo
    Aug 4, 2022 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


Firstly, it is important to note that the kanji of どこ is rarely used, and same for ある. In addition, in your question, you wrote 有る which is the incorrect kanji for this usage of ある (有る represents possession; 在る represents location).

To answer your question, they are basically interchangeable, however ○○はどこにありますか is a more polite way of saying ○○はどこですか, so which one you use depends on the person with whom you're speaking.

  • 2
    "however of course it is not wrong to write them so" - I was under the impression that the correct kanji for the "location" ある would be 在る, while 有る is used for "possession" ある. I feel like the sentence structure in the question would not be about "possession" ある.
    – Leebo
    Aug 4, 2022 at 14:46
  • 1
    @Leebo Ah shoot, you're right - I'll edit my answer. 有る in this context is in fact incorrect; my brain just skimmed over it
    – Basil
    Aug 4, 2022 at 15:00

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