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I looked up である and everyone says that it is a written formal form of だ. My question is what are the written formal forms of other Japanese verbs: ある, いる,... I could not find them. Does a written formal form only exist for だ?

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Japanese has two way of formal writing.

One is ”だである調”(means だ and である form). It leave the end of the sentence as it is or add ”~だ” or ”~である” there. For example, 外に犬がいる, 私は寿司が好きだ, 私は寿司が好きである. We can mostly change だ to である. It is more formal than ですます調. Moreover, である is more formal than だ. And である has nuance a little old-fashioned (but it is often used in the books).

The other is ”ですます調”(means です and ます form). It add ”~です” or ”~ます” to the end of sentence. For example, 私は寿司が好きです, 今日は早く寝ます. We cannot change です to ます. It is more politeness than だである調, and we can use it anywhere.

ある,いる is だである調. In ですます調, it become あります, います.

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  • Thank you so much for the detailed explanation. I will definitely not be able to find this clear explanation anywhere.
    – joan doe
    Dec 27, 2022 at 17:18
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In Japanese, it is difficult to choose the correct writing style. This is because if you use a noun + do to express an action, it is either "...する" or "...します" but if you use a verb, you either use the verb as it is or change the endings.  The former is called joutai(=normal) and the latter is called keitai(=honorific).

Examples of the latter: run/run listen/hear  Generally, the verb ending (at the end) changes from -u to -i e.g. Japanese/the Kunrei romanization system of Japanese/normal/honorific 走る/hashiru/hashiru/hashirimasu 聴く/kiku/kiku/kikimasu In this way, in the honorific form, the "ます" is added after changing the ending of a word.

In "He is a genius," the word for "is" in English is "だ". In English, the verb "be" corresponds to "だ・である" or "です・ます" in Japanese. In general, the "です・ます" is described as "honorific" and "だ・である" is described as "normal".

Thus, it is very difficult to explain the most appropriate way of speaking in Japanese because of the variety of endings and other changes that exist in different types of verbs, be verbs, nouns, etc.

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