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JPLearn! - Volume I
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Chapter: 1 Lesson: 21 - Negative Tense: いません・ありません

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Lesson added on: April 20, 2018 09:15pm
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[headerLesson]Negative Tense - いる - ある [/headerLesson] By now you should have a clear understanding of います and あります however there is one problem with all of this, we don’t know how to disagree with someone or to state that they are wrong. We can easily do this just by changing tenses. はじめましょう!

Remember the copula です? It can be viewed as “to be” but as we know from English grammar, “to be” is a verb which can only mean that です is both a copula and a verb. For example, if you’ve BEEN somewhere or perhaps you’re about to be in a location. Verbs are actions and they have tenses even in Japanese.

Positive Negative
Present です で  は ありません
Present あります ありません


In Japanese, verbs are easy to learn how to conjugate and we will learn more about them in JPLearn! Lesson 21 however, we will advance one step at a time by first observing the Present-Positive and Present-Negative (Polite) tenses.

If we take a look at the chart above, we can observe and find that です (to-be) can become ではありません when it is conjugated negatively. Let’s first look at an example for further elaboration.

[b]Example Sentences:[/b]
That is a cat -> それはねこです。 [i](Present-Positive Form)[/i]

No, that is not a cat -> いいえ、それはねこではありません。 [i](Present-Negative Form)[/i]

In the above example we added the word “No” いいえ to the beginning of the sentence to declare the argument and conjugated です to で は ありません. It may seem strange that we are using ありません when there is a living thing (the cat) in context but in this context we should be using ありません because [b]it just is[/b].

When you must state that something is not, use ではありません.
When you must state that that such thing is not there, you may use いません.

In other verb, ありません is the negative of “to have / to be” and is a conjugation of the verb ある. The verb いません is the negative of “to be” meaning the existence of something and it is a conjugation of the verb いる.

[b]Let’s look at some more examples and try to understand the differences between いる and ある[/b]
English Japanese
(I) have a book. ほんはあります。
(I) don’t have a book. ほんはありません。
There is a woman. おんなはいます。
There is no woman. おんなはいません。
That is a horse. それはうまです。
No, that is not a horse. いいえ、それはうまではありません。


Perhaps by now the usage of the two has become more evident. There will be more practice in the assignments and in future lessons you will become more natural with the correct grammar through more exposure.

[headerLesson]Formal, Informal, and Casual Japanese[/headerLesson] Truth be told, you will not use ではありません too often because it’s strictly very formal and unnatural in day-to-day conversations. While it may still be acceptable it can be seen as the difference between using the full meaning and instead using an apostrophe like “will not” and “won’t” in English. It is certainly more polite to say ではありません though it may not sound natural in context. Keep in mind that you should retain a Formal conversation approach to those whom rank higher than you in society such as your boss, a police officer, customers and so forth.

[b]Let’s observe the following table to see the key differences between formalities.[/b]
Verb Present-Positive Present-Negative (Formal) Present-Negative (Informal) Present-Negative (Casual)
ある あります ありません ないです ない
いる います いません いないです いない


[b]By using the table above, we can formulate the following sentences:[/b]
にわとりはありません。 = There is no Chicken. [i](Formal)[/i]

にわとりはいないです。 = There is no Chicken. [i](Informal)[/i]

にわとりはない。= There is no Chicken [i](Casual)[/i]

Well done, let's finish the conversation between ひでよ and ひとみ from the previous lesson.
English Translation
Hideyo: It’s a cat! ひでよ:ねこがいますよ。
Hitomi: Where is the cat? ひとみ:どこにいますか?
Hideyo: The cat is over there! ひでよ: あそこがいます!
Hitomi: There is no cat. ねこはありません。


[headerLesson]Assignments[/headerLesson] It’s now time to do this lesson’s assignments. We will be using a chart to create our own sentences, learn new katakana characters, and improve our vocabulary. In the next lesson, we will be learning about Japanese Adjectives. This will be a 3-part series as it is quite an extensive subject. However after learning Japanese adjectives we will be able to put all of what we learned into practical Japanese.
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