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Imasu and Arimasu

japanese words arimasu

Japanese has two words for “to exist”. Unlike English, which uses different words depending on whether the object is singular or plural, Japanese uses different words depending on whether or not the object is alive . います (imasu) is used when discussing plants and animals (including humans) and あります (arimasu) is used for basically every object that isn’t alive. あります(arimasu) can also hold the meaning of “I have”.


Inu ga imasu.

There is a dog


Kuruma ga arimasu.

There is a car.

It can be confusing when you first  start using these words, but it gets much easier with practice. If you are having trouble remembering which one is which then I suggest that you come up with some kind of relation in your mind. For instance, “I”masu is used for things that are “I”kiteru (the Japanese word for alive or breathing). This should help you from getting them confused.