Photos of JapanNihongo o Narau

Lesson 12: It's in the car.
Click here for the kana version.

Recall from Lesson 4 that we learned how to say that the location of something is here, there, or over there. This is useful information if you can see something or are pointing at something. However, what if you can't see the location you are talking about, or you want to explain where something is in relation to something else?

First, there are two different ways of saying something exists. One is for animate things (people and animals) and one is for inanimate things. These are the verbs imasu and arimasu. These both mean "to exist." Imasu is used for animate things and arimasu is used for inanimate things.

To ask where a place or inanimate object is, one can use the form:

XX wa doko ni arimasu ka. Where is XX?

For people and animals, imasu is used instead:

XX wa doko ni imasu ka. Where is XX?

Note the use of ni. Ni was previously shown in lesson 7; its meaning here is slightly different. Ni in this case means 'at.' Doko ni means 'at what location.' Similarly, koko ni would mean 'at this location.' The above sentences literally translate as 'As for XX, at what location does it exist?'

In order to say where something or someone is, just replace the 'doko' with the location.



Maiku-san wa doko ni imasu ka.
Maiku-san wa gakkou ni imasu.

Neko wa doko ni imasu ka.
Neko wa asoko ni imasu.

Watashi no ringo wa doko ni arimasu ka.
Koko ni arimasu.

Kaban wa doko ni arimasu ka.
Kaban wa Arasuka ni arimasu.

Where is Mike?
Mike is at school.

Where is the cat?
The cat is over there.

Where is my apple?
It's here.

Where is the briefcase?
The briefcase is in Alaska.

OK, now we can move on to specific locations. Where exactly is the cat? Is it under the desk? Inside of a box? Is the book in the bookshelf or on top of it? We will need some more vocabulary in order to say these things.


ushiro back, behind
yoko next to, along side
ue top, above
shita bottom, under
naka inside, middle
soto outside
aida between, interval
mukou beyond
tonari next door, neighboring
hidari gawa left side
migi gawa right side

Now that we have more location words to work with, we can make more location sentences. Just place the correct location word in the sentence.


Neko wa doko ni imasu ka.
Soto ni imasu.
Naka ni imasu.

Where is the cat?
It's outside.
It's inside.

Now we need to combine the location words with objects to create such locations as 'in the bag' etc. We do this using the particle no. Recall from lesson 2 that no indicates possesion.


kuruma no ue
kuruma no shita
kuruma no naka
kuruma no soto
kuruma no ushiro


on the car
under the car
in the car
outside of the car
behind the car

Note that where in English these phrases are indicated with prepositions these are more like postpositions.

OK, now that we have our new locations, we can insert them in our location sentence as before.



Neko wa doko ni imasu ka.
Kuruma no ue ni imasu.
Kuruma no shita ni imasu.

Kaban wa doko ni arimasu ka.
Kuruma no naka ni arimasu.


Where is the cat?
It's on the car.
It's under the car.

Where's the bag?
It's in the car.


Lesson 12 Vocabulary:



hidari gawa
migi gawa




to exist (for inanimate things)
to exist (for animate things)

particle meaning at
possessive particle

back, behind
next to, along side
top, above
bottom, under
inside, middle
between, interval
next door, neighboring
left side
right side

bag, briefcase

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