Question about questions! Genki Lesson 4, looking for a little clarification


I’m working through Genki 1 and am a little stuck on an exercise. The prompt is to “Answer the following questions”, and some of the questions take on this form:


I think I roughly get the idea, but am hazy on the specifics. Here is what I’ve come up with:

あなたの学校に = “At your school”
何が = ?? This is where I’m a bit stuck… they seem to be identifying “what” as the topic of the sentence.
ありますか。="… is there?" Maybe?

Roughly what I’m coming up with is something like: “What is your school?” Which I’d interpret as something like “What school do you go to?”. But the section is focused on practicing expressing existence so this seems off… maybe “What is at your school?” but that seems like a weird question to ask in general…

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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You came pretty close, you identified the separate elements of the sentence correctly, you seem to have tripped up a bit when putting it together.

Your literal translation of “what is at your school?” is actually the correct one here. あなたの学校 is marked as the location, 何 as the subject. It’s probably meant as an exercise for you to then state something your school has.


Hello! You are very close, but what you forgot to think about is the partikel “ni”, which marks a location. So “gakkou ni” means in school. Now with knowing that, the sentence should make sense :3


Here is my understanding. (I’m open to corrections if anyone sees a mistake!)

あります states existence. It can be used similar to “has” in English as in, “My house has a furnace” or “My car has heated seats.”

「何がありますか」 asks what is had. に is stating the location where it is had. Altogether, it’s essentially, “What is had at your school?” (Or in smoother English: “What does your school have?”)

Answers can be things like, “My school has a track field,” “My school has a gym,” “My school has uniforms.” These answers can be formed by taking the question, replacing 「何」 with the item you are stating is at your school, and removing the question-marking か from the end.


Second @ChristopherFritz 's answer.

That’d be あなたの学校 (or は) 何ですか。In this statement, “your school” became the subject of the sentence, and with the use of the copula です, you’re asking the state of being, not existence (あります - or います for living things).

Existence did a number on me when I was starting out too, but exposing yourself to more sentence patterns and paying special attention to particles and their roles will definitely help in figuring out the meaning.

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I seem to recall being taught that Japanese usually phrases this as …どこですか (i.e. where is your school?)


I translated it from the “What is your school?” statement that was mentioned in the original post, but I agree that it doesn’t sound like a natural question. I assumed it could mean “What (type/kind) of school do you go to?”, but even so that would still be worded in Japanese differently.

I’d guess that’s because most school names are literally the location too.

Ahh I’ll bet this is it! This chapter also discusses using が to describe possession, so I think they’re just prompting me to practice that as well.

Thanks to everyone for the super helpful posts, I learned a lot from them. This community is amazing.

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