Wk 脱線 example sentence

I thought you would use いる in this case instead of ある, or is 怪我人 considered as something not living?


If you check a monolingual definition for ある, you will actually find a surprising number of usages that apply to people… but you will also find real Japanese people who will tell you that those usages, and the sentence above, sound strange to them.

I don’t know if that sentence does actually fit into one of the definitions I was talking about, but I think it’s safe to say that if you have to talk about people, it is always safe to use いる. Don’t use ある unless you dig a lot deeper into those usages and actually have a good reason and understanding of it.


wow ok, so it’s not as clear cut as I thought. Thanks leebo.

To complete @Leebo’s answer, I think the reason for ある here is that it implies a change of state (they were injured in the accident). いる would simply mean that they were there (and thus injured for unrelated reason), for instance watching from the side, when it happened.

Edit: the one I am thinking of is definition 12 here, but reading it carefully, I’m not 100% sure either. 5 seems more likely, actually (thinking about them in an abstract way, rather than explicit people).


That’s kind of how it feels to me too. Like they’re talking about casualties in an impersonal way, and it feels intentional since it’s almost a complaint at the start.


But surely you can use いる for people inside the train too?

I would not have called this a complaint, they’re just reporting on a situation. I understand what you mean by talking about casualties in an impersonal way though. But why would they talk in an impersonal way if they were complaining? Wouldn’t you try to be as personal as possible when complaining?

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I also agree that it sounds like a report.

About いる, it sounds weird to me in this situation. Again, it makes it sound like you are just talking about people being physically present, which has no relation with the accident. They may have been in the train, but there presence is not caused by the derailment.
Instead of ある, you could use 出る in this case, though.

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I think you can use ある or いる here, but it depends on the sense you wish to give to the ‘existence’ of the injured persons.

I think definition 5 is definitely what we’re looking at. Definition 12 is for events, not people. However, I think definition 5 is difficult to understand and is in fact better for understanding what changed when いる was not used: いる is not necessarily ‘abstract’ or ‘objective’, meaning that it’s an existence verb that tends to emphasise the ‘animate’ character of the people involved and the fact that they’re living, moving around and so on.

I think it’s more that we’re used to いる being used for people who are present and doing something. However, as Goo辞書’s definition 5 demonstrates, いる is a synonym of ある when used in the context of discussing existence (存在すること): いる appears in the definition.

I’d like to supplement definition 5 of Goo辞書 with another definition (number 一❷①) from 大辞林 on Weblio, which also allows us to figure out which kanji to use for ある if we so desire. いる also appears in this definition, again showing us that the two words are synonyms in this context:
① (誰が存在するかが問題場合)いる。 「昔々、ある所におじいさんとおばあさんが-・りました」 「今は昔、竹取の翁といふもの-・りけり/竹取」

As we can see, in this definition, the question is here whether or not certain people exist – a nuance that is perhaps not as clear when いる, the usual animate existence verb, is used –, which is indeed what this title discusses: before reading this article, the reader is supposedly unaware of whether anyone was injured, and the article informs the reader that there are none i.e. literally ‘injured people did not exist’. This definition corresponds to the kanji form 有る.

The next two definitions on Weblio (which correspond to definitions 6 and 7 on Goo辞書) refer to living/surviving in the world or in a certain situation, which can also apply to people. However, since in these definitions, it’s a question of existing in a certain context (in the world of the living or in a certain situation) when existence is already a given, these definitions are not relevant to this situation. They correspond to the kanji form 在る.

This is true, but I think the reason 出る was not chosen in this case is because of possible ambiguity: the event likely happened while people were inside a train, and using a verb that can also mean ‘to come out’ might suggest that none of the injured people made it out of the train.


:joy: I didn’t think of that.

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I never meant anything about derailing causing people to exist in the train lol.

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Yeah I can see that now. I think it’s the が conjunction that makes it sound like a news report.

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Not related to the が you’re referring to but how would the nuance change (if at all) if you were to swap the は and が particles?

I feel like that would emphasize the 怪我人 more. Like, the difference between:

The train derailed, but there were no casualties.
The train derailed, but no casualties were there.

It’s subtle, but the latter has slightly more emphasis on it as the subject.

Ah ok, I think I see what you mean now, but

I don’t think we’d ever say this in english. :joy: It sounds like there could be casualties elsewhere.

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Yeah, that’s a more literal translation. “No casualties occurred” or “No casualties were found” would probably be closer to the meaning while losing some of the nuance.

Translation is hard™ :wink:

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This is just my opinion, but having two は’s in the sentence (電車は and 怪我人は) would likely create a contrastive nuance, because usually, Aは…、Bは… carries that sense. The sentence would then mean something like ‘The train came off the trains, whereas the injured people were not there’. EDIT: That coincidentally sounds a lot like @alo’s statement:

I also think the が in the middle – which would suggest either a contradiction between the two statements (like ‘but’) or that the first statement is just back ground information for the second – also makes such an interpretation strange because there’s no need to add が in such a contrastive structure.

Another reason why 電車は might feel strange is because は has a tendency to emphasise what comes after it while making what comes before it into the topic or context for the rest of the sentence. However, the second half of the sentence is entirely about injured people, who have nothing to do with the train’s actions or condition.

By the way, the reason it’s 怪我人 ありませんでした is that for ある, the most particle usually changes between positive and negative statements: Aがある, but Bはない. This is only for cases where ある is the verb at the end of a sentence or independent clause though. A man without money is still 金の・がない男.

Further edit: to answer your actual question (which I just realised I misunderstood)

I think this would make 電車 the overall topic of the sentence, and so it would be as though the 怪我人 were a sort of property or attribute of the 電車. Perhaps the train company has a team of ‘injured people’ waiting in a hidden compartment for whenever it needs some bad press. :stuck_out_tongue: This is just my opinion though, and it’s based on my knowledge of は and が. I can’t think of a good example of a similar sentence at the moment, though of course, we would definitely say 乗客(じょうきゃく)は怪我がない。(The passengers have no injuries.)

Here’s a little summary of an article about は and が that I made a while back:

New info Old info (For answering questions like what, who, where…)
Fact (e.g. describing what you can see) Judgement/opinion
Linked to the start/just one chunk of a sentence Related to the whole sentence
Exclusive characteristics Comparison He is X’ vs ‘He is A while she is B.’
Identifying (pointing) statements Descriptive statements ‘A=B’ vs ‘A has X as a characteristic/is a type of X’
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