The sentence


translates to

I ran into a snake when I was exploring through weeds as tall as a person.

Question: What is ある connected to? Is it a 連体形 modifying 雑草, as in


If so, what purpose is it serving? It sounds like it's just saying "existing-weeds", which is pretty much the same thing as "weeds", no?

1 Answer 1


Yes that ある is in the 連体形, and 人間の背丈ほどもある is a relative clause that modifies 雑草. The "original" sentence is:


The weeds are as tall as a human.
(literally: As for the weeds, the height is as much as a human's height.)

This ある may still seem tricky, but we use ある this way to express the weight or the size of something. You may temporarily forget the meaning of "to exist".

  • この蛇は(長さが)3メートル(も)ある。
    This snake is 3 meters long.
  • 彼は(体重が)80kg以上(も)ある。
    He weights more than 80 kg.

(も indicates the number is large. The が-marked subject like 体重 is typically omitted.)

And we can make relativized phrases like so:

  • (長さが)3メートルある蛇
    a snake that is 3 meters long
  • (体重が)80kg以上ある男
    a man who weighs more than 80 kg

Here's a relevant dictionary definition:


(Source: 大修館書店 明鏡国語辞典 第三版)

  • Thanks for another great answer. Related question: is "雑草の中を探検する" considered a relative clause in this sentence, and is that why する is in the non-past tense, while 出くわした is in the past tense? (For that matter, ある is also in the non-past tense, for I assume the same reason).
    – George
    Dec 8, 2022 at 3:26
  • @naruto Out of curiosity, would the meaning be the same if もある were replaced by でもある? Or is this ungrammatical. For example: この蛇は長さが3メートルでもある.
    – jogloran
    Dec 8, 2022 at 5:05
  • @George No, と is not a noun in the first place, so 探検する cannot form a relative clause. The verb before と must be non-past.
    – naruto
    Dec 8, 2022 at 7:19
  • @jogloran もある and でもある are different. でもある is である (is) + も (also), so your sentence means "Besides/Also, this snake's length is 3 meters."
    – naruto
    Dec 8, 2022 at 7:36

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