701 - ~てある

JLPT N4: ~てある (is; are)

The fastidious student that you are, I'm sure that you've been poring over the details of our many lessons about ~ている, yeah?

- [NDL #524] - Basics: ~ている
- [NDL #449] - JLPT N4: ~ている (original shape)
- [NDL #451] - JLPT N2: ~ている (narrative present tense)
- [NDL #700] - JLPT N4: ~ている (has been; is)

If all of that seems overwhelming, just check out the last lesson. In it, you'll see that we talk about how ~ている is used to describe an ongoing state.

So we could say:


窓が開いています。
まど が あいています。
The window is open.
Literally: “window + が + is opening.”

But the story is actually a bit more complicated than that.

For example, what if the window doesn't just happen to be open? What if, instead, someone left it open for a specific purpose?

Let's say we work together in our own boutique office in Matsuyama, on the island of Shikoku in Japan. It gets HOT in the summer, and afternoons at the office can be rough. Accordingly, I left the window open for better air flow.

In that case, you would describe the window being open in a different way:


窓が開けあります
まど が あけてあります。
The window is open. // The window has been opened. // The window has been left open.
Literally: “window + が + is open (=open [and] + there is).”

~ている describes something that is in an ongoing state, and ~てあるdescribes something that was put into an ongoing state for a specific purpose.

📚 That last sentence sums up the entire lesson, so you might want to read it a few times.


Since ~てある is used when something was put into a state with a specific objective in mind, it makes sense that it is used with 他動詞 (たどうし // transitive verbs).

A transitive verb is a verb that takes an object. We saw a transitive verb above: 開ける (あける // to open [something]).

We also saw a 自動詞 (じどうし // intransitive verb): 開く (あく // to open).

When you open a door, that is 開ける. It is a transitive verb because you (the agent) are performing an action (opening) on an object (the door).

Conversely, when a door opens on the train, that is 開く. It is an intransitive verb because the door is opening on it's own.

開ける:He opened the door.
開く:The door opened.

Getting the hang of 他動詞 and 自動詞 can be tricky, but doing so is a worthwhile investment of your time. We've discussed these topics in other lessons, like these two:
- [NDL #4] - Help! My Japanese Needs Saving
- [NDL #583] - JLPT N3: ~させる (cause)


👷 Construction 👷

Put the verb ある after the て-form of a verb.

That's it!


Here's another example:


冷蔵庫に、写真やメモがはっある
れいぞうこ に、 しゃしん や メモ が はってある。
There are photos and notes stuck to the refrigerator.
Literally: “refrigerator + に, + photos + や + memos / notes + が + are stuck to / are affixed to (=stick [and] + there are).”


The photos and notes are in the ongoing state of being stuck to the fridge. And someone put them there intentionally. Thus, we use ~てある.



理科室の机の上に、実験に使う道具が並べあります
りかしつ の つくえ の うえ に、 じっけん に つかう どうぐ が ならべてあります。
Tools that will be used in the experiment are lined up on the table[s] in the science lab.
Literally: “science (class) room + の + desk + の + above + に, + experiment + に + use + tools + が + are lined up (=line up [and] + there are).”
Note: This is talking about the classroom where you do science lab experiments in school.


並ぶ (ならぶ) is an intransitive verb meaning "to line up" or "to stand in a line." If you see people waiting in line to eat popcorn in Harajuku, they're 並んでいる (ならんでいる).

並べる (ならべる) is a transitive verb meaning "to line up (something)" or "to put (some things) in a line." If someone has placed a bunch of chairs in a line against the wall so that guests to an event can later sit in them, those seats are 並べてある (ならべてある).


Yet another example:


レジの上のホワイトボードに、今日のおすすめのメニューが書いある
レジ の うえ の ホワイトボード に、 きょう の おすすめ の メニュー が かいてある。
Today’s specials are written on the whiteboard above the register.
Literally: “(cash) register + の + above + の + whiteboard + に, + today + の + recommendation + の + menu + が + are written (=write [and] + there are).”


Obviously, the restaurant specials were written with a specific objective in mind, yeah? Getting people to order them! Accordingly, they're not 書いている (かいている), they're 書いてある (かいてある).

書いている (かいている) would just describe someone that "is writing" something.


Maybe you're starting to get comfortable with this ~てある stuff?

I hope so. Because I'm about to throw you a curve ball.

We already saw this sentence:


開けあります
まど が あけてあります。
The window is open. // The window has been opened. // The window has been left open.
Literally: “window + が + is open (=open [and] + there is).”

But sometimes you'll come across sentences using instead of


開けあります
まど を あけてあります。
The window is open. // The window has been opened. // The window has been left open.
Literally: “window + を + is open (=open [and] + there is).”

Why?!

Well, it's relatively common to see used with our ~てある verb if the speaker is the one that put the thing into an ongoing state.

For example, I'm talking about how I left the window open so that our office wouldn't get too hot, then I could say を instead of が.

I almost never hear people saying sentences with を like this. But that's only because I mostly hear people using casual Japanese, and we can just drop を in such cases... or use a completely different phrase, perhaps.

But this is the JLPT, and they use particles whenever they can. I doubt they'd make you guess which particle is correct for a given situation, を or が, since this isn't necessarily a rule, per se.

Anyway, yeah. In our next three examples we're using を and not が because the speakers are the ones that put these things into an ongoing state for a specific purpose...

万が一の時のために、ベッドの下にピストルを隠しあります
まんがいち の とき の ため に、 ベッド の した に ピストル を かくしてあります。
I have a pistol hidden under my bed, just in case something were to happen.
Literally: “if by any chance / in the unlikely event that (=10,000 + が + 1) + の + time + の + sake / purpose + に, + bed + の + under + に + pistol + を + is hidden (=hide [and] + there is).”

裏口のカギを開けありますから、好きに入ってきてください。
うらぐち の カギ を あけてあります から、 すき に はいって きて ください。
The back door is unlocked, so please feel free to let yourself in.
Literally: “back door / rear entrance + の + key + を + is unlocked (=open [and] + there is) + because, + liking + に + enter (and) + come (and) + please.”

わたしはもうみんなのぶんの切符を買っあります
わたし は もう みんな の ぶん の きっぷ を かってあります。
I’ve already bought tickets for everyone.
Literally: “I + は + already + everyone + の + part / share + の + ticket + を + have bought (=buy [and] + there is).”


Hope you enjoyed this lesson.

Props to you if you read every example sentence, including each word-by-word breakdown.

Reading every word-by-word breakdown is probably more helpful than reading my explanations, so I'd really focus on doing that for sentences in our lessons.




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