‘Aru’ exists to serve more than one purpose

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Naka no shorui ni namae ga kaite-aru yo. (The name is written inside on the documents.)

Situation 1: Ms. Tamachi finds a case file in the meeting room and asks her colleague Ms. Gray about it.

田町: このファイル、忘れ物だ。だれのかな?

グレイ: 中の書類に名前が書いてあるよ。あ、三田さんのだ。

Tamachi: Kono fairu, wasuremono da. Dare no kana?

Gray: Naka no shorui ni namae ga kaite-aru yo. A, Mita-san no da.

Tamachi: Someone forgot this file (literally: This file is a forgotten thing). Whose is it?

Gray: The name is written inside on the documents. Ah, it’s Mr. Mita’s.

To indicate the state of a thing or matter, use the て-form of a verb (X) and add ある (to exist) on the end. Xてある illustrates the state or existence of something that has been done by someone for a specific purpose (X is always a 他動詞 [tadōshi, transitive verb] in this construction).

The structure is commonly used in situations that include hanging things — 壁(かべ)に絵(え)がかけてある (The picture is hung on the wall) — or when something has been written down — 問題用紙(もんだいようし)に答(こた)えが書(か)いてある (The answers are written on the question paper).

Pay attention to the following conversation:

「あれ、だれもいないのにエアコンがついていますけど。」 (“Look, the air conditioner has been left on even though nobody’s here.”)

「すぐ戻(もど)るので、つけてあるんです。」 (“I’m keeping it turned on because we’ll be back soon.”)

As seen in the response, using ので, から, ために or ように — words that help convey reason and purpose — are often used in sentences with Xてある. Here’s another example using ので:

来月(らいげつ)エレベーター点検(てんけん)があるので、マンションの入口(いりぐち)にお知(し)らせが貼(は)ってある。 (As there will be an elevator inspection next month, a notice has been affixed to the entrance of our apartment building.)

Situation 2: Ms. Mita and his colleague Mr. Sere are talking about a big earthquake.

三田: いつ大地震が来てもおかしくないって言われているね。防災のために何かしている?

セレ: うん。ぼくは地震が来ても困らないように、かばんに防災グッズを入れてあるんだ。

Mita: Itsu ōjishin ga kitemo okashikunai-tte iwarete-iru ne. Bōsai no tame ni nanika shite-iru?

Sere: Un. Boku wa jishin ga kitemo komaranai yō ni, kaban ni bōsai-guzzu o irete-aru-n-da.

Mita: It’s not odd to say that a big earthquake might hit at any time. Have you done something (to prepare) for a disaster?

Sere: Yeah. I’ve put a disaster kit in my bag so I won’t be in trouble even if an earthquake comes.

The Xてある construction also illustrates the state of something that has been prepared or arranged as seen in Mr. Sere’s response about earthquake preparation. A verb (X) in て-form attached to おく (to put) conveys a similar meaning, but Xておく indicates that someone is doing an action to prepare or arrange, while Xてある expresses that preparation or arrangement was done (a passive construction), as seen in the husband’s responses to his wife in today’s Bonus Dialogue.

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. and Mrs. Shiba are preparing to have some guests over to their home.

妻: 窓(まど)が開(あ)いているけど、閉(し)めようか。

夫: 空気(くうき)を入(い)れ替(か)えるから、開けてあるんだ。ねえ、冷蔵庫(れいぞうこ)に飲(の)み物(もの)を入れてあるから、そろそろ持(も)ってきて。

妻: わあ、たくさんあるね。

夫: 先週(せんしゅう)、ビールの安売(やすう)りをしていたから、買(か)っておいたんだ。あと、雨(あめ)が降(ふ)っているから、タオルを出(だ)しておいて。このまえ行(い)ったクリニックには、雨の日(ひ)に入口にタオルが置(お)いてあったんだ。

妻: わあ、いいね。…あ、今(いま)、メールが来(き)て、もう一人(ひとり)友達(ともだち)を連(つ)れてきてもいいかって。

夫: だいじょうぶ。お客(きゃく)さんが増(ふ)えてもいいように料理(りょうり)を多(おお)めに準備(じゅんび)してあるから。

妻: よかった。なんて気(き)がきく人(ひと)なの!

夫: そういうときだけ、おだてるんだから。

Wife: The window is open. Shall I close it?

Husband: It has been kept open so the air can circulate. Also, there are drinks in the refrigerator, we should grab them soon.

Wife: Wow, there’s a lot (in here).

Husband: I bought them last week because beer was being sold at a discount. Also, it’s raining so please get some towels ready. I saw some towels prepared at the entrance of that clinic I went to a few days ago.

Wife: Oh wow, that’s actually a good idea. … Hey, I just got a text, my friend is asking if she can bring one more friend.

Husband: That’s OK. I prepared a lot of food in case there are more guests.

Wife: Great. You’re such a thoughtful person!

Husband: Ha, you always sweet talk me on these kinds of occasions.