Konnichiwa, I was reading 人間失格 by Dazai Osamu and I was confused with the meaning of ある in it :


Does it mean that "he had something he understood" or "there was something he understood"?

As you can see thé problème is between asset it to either one of those two meanings:

あ・る【有る/在る】 読み方:ある

[動ラ五][文]あ・り[ラ変] [一]

1 事物が存在する。「庭には池が—・る」「重大な欠陥が—・る」

10 ある考え・気持ち・感覚などを持っている。「お願いが—・る」「言いたいことが—・る」「かすかな痛みが—・る」

I would like to know also other situations where we can see such an ambiguity concerning ある, Arigatou

  • 2
    I'm not sure why these are separately defined, but I guess most are ambiguous in the sense that you could use to have and there is. E..g, お願いがある = I have a request. = There is a request from me. I feel it is just a matter of translation rather than ambiguity.
    – sundowner
    Oct 18, 2022 at 12:33
  • 1
    Are you basically asking whether this 幽かに思い当る所 exists somewhere outside or with (or in) him?
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 18, 2022 at 15:05
  • Yes , aguijonazo , I'm almost confused about that.
    – Z Ea
    Oct 18, 2022 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


Note ところ does not have to be physical (bold added).

1 空間的な場所。人や物が存在する場所。

2 抽象的な場所。場面。範囲。多く、連体修飾語によって限定される場所や部分をいう。

思うところ/思い当たるところ etc. always means idea about something, so if ある is used, it is always in the sense of 10. I don't think it particularly affects translation though.


  • 彼女はなぜ外国へいったのか
  • 自分には思い当たるところがある

Here ところ refers to a reason the speaker has in mind, so the usage of ある is 10.


  • 彼女はどこへ行ったのか
  • 自分には思い当たるところがある

Strictly speaking, the ところ refers to the idea about where she went, so the ある is still 10 but ところ here in a sense refers to a physical place, so 思い当たるところ exists also physically.

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