Doubt about です and あります, do you agree with me on this?

Hey guys.

I am currently self studying with the Genki I Books. I just got to lesson 4 where あります is introduced.

The thing is this:

Genki says あります is strictly used for existence or location while てす is used for attributes of a person or a thing. But in previous lessons i was introduced to the あそこ、ここ、そこ nouns and i was taught that i could answer location questions with, for example あそこてす. Like if someone asks where the library is i could just point with my finger and say あそこです.

So i have come to the conlusion that maybe てす can also be used for location being more flexible that あります. I mean while あります might be restricted to location and existence,ですcan be used with attributes and also with location.

Have I come to the right conclusion?


The difference between あそこです and あそこにあります is like the difference between “Over there” and “It’s over there.”

Be aware that sometimes です is just there to make something polite. I feel like that’s all it’s really doing in あそこです, not making a grammatical sentence necessarily. The answer is just あそこ (which is not a sentence) and adding です makes it polite. Though it could be a sentence if you imagined the subject being omitted.

Another example of です being politeness and not grammatical is when you have い adjectives followed by です. They can’t take a copula, so you can’t say something like おいしいだ, but if you just say おいしい to someone it might not sound polite enough, so you are allowed to tack on です even though it’s normally a copula.


Similar to what Leebo said
です is to state what something is, or to make something polite
So like ここです means “it is here”

有ります/居ます is used only for existence of an object(s), like you said.
You can’t be like 赤い有ります, since it’s used for objects, but 赤いリンゴ有ります would be acceptable.

But more often than not, I’ve heard the pronouns you listed used with 居る and 有る, but that is just my experiences. Such as the following:
彼:「 ノリコさんがどこ」
But, technically, you don’t need to use either

彼:「 ノリコさんがどこ」
Is also correct


I found Tae Kim’s grammar guide to be very helpful to understand the structure of this, most textbooks start out with the polite form but never really explain what is actually happening.

Check out the part “「です」 is NOT the same as 「だ」” at the end of
and “state of being” in the basic grammar section.

You can use both constructions, but they are also fundamentally different. Your two options are 「あそこだ」 (declarative) and 「あそこにある」, the verb ある modified by a “direction”.


Furthermore です is a shorter version of であります.


I mean, you can go all the way up to でございます if you want to keep upping the formality of your copulas, but I don’t see how that’s actually relevant to this question?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard であります.

I’ve seen である in fiction.

「である」 is the formal state of being, it replaces 「だ」 in the written language. I’m not sure if it can take ~ます, it’s probably akin to saying 「でします」 when trying to make [です」 more polite.

「ござる」 is the honorific version of 「ある」.

But you will need a few more Genkis before this becomes relevant.

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Leebo and others explain it well.I’ll just note that as you go along you’ll internalize when to use either です or ある/いる. Just like the particles, you kind of have to fell your way through it sometimes. です has pretty wide usage, and it can understandably stand in for a lot, but try to not use it as a crutch that prevents you from using/learning other verbs.

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These answers have been very helpful guys thanks a lot. Now I understand です might be used just for making something polite. Some of you also mention other grammar points I haven’t learned yet but I will come back to this post as soon as I do.


It’s really odd to write these with kanji. They will almost invariably be written using kana. I know the kanji look fancier, but that doesn’t mean it’s right to use them in all circumstances.

It’s not about “upping the formality”. です is believed to originate from であります.
I learned this from my teachers when I was formally studying Japanese so I don’t have a proper source, but this should be enough to ensure you I’m not pulling it out off my ass.です

When is a word’s etymology not relevant to its use?

It can. It’s not.

Can we please not assume I’m just making things up? I’m not a beginner; you’re both being quite rude.


I’ve read the same thing in quite a few places. I read a lot of etymology, because it helps clarify what’s really going on, especially in cases where the hand-me-down knowledge in the learning community doesn’t really explain the nuance of when/how/why they are used as they are. (I’m not putting down the hand-me-down knowledge, by the way… it’s extremely helpful, and makes learning so much more accessible).

One example: knowing that あなた is a ko-so-a-do word actually casts a little bit of light on the nuance of its use.


I always heard that it came from でございます, but I don’t think any of the ideas about it has enough evidence to say with certainty that that’s where it came from. There are other ideas too. Oh, the thing you linked says as much.

esamuel is a beginner and the idea of the two being connected doesn’t seem to be helpful to making the distinction here, especially since there are so many other candidates. But that’s just me.

If you say so. I didn’t think so, I can get much ruder. :slight_smile:

Saying I’ve never heard it wasn’t to say you made it up, I mean I’ve never heard a person say it in real life, so he’s not going to know what you’re talking about.

Yes, sorry. It seems that です already contains the ます some way or another, so appending it again would double it. I researched a bit, it seems it is less clear where です comes from, there are several theories.

I’m replying to myself to apologize for my typos.

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Like @acm2010 said, those two (「ござる」 and 「ある」) are historically connected. So 「である」, 「でござる」, 「であります」, 「でございます」, and 「です」 are all connected as well (historically, etymologically, semantically).

Oh, good. I think that makes it all better now.

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What was there to “make better.”

Since I wasn’t being rude and all.

What I was trying to say is that when faced with the possibility that you are being rude, saying “oh, but I can be a lot worse” is not a particularly good retort.

FWIW, being rude is like being smelly: you don’t get to decide if you’re it.

Be careful not to mix up て and で. You wrote てす in nearly every case. It’s です.

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