Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 2: 2/22


Formal or literary だ, Authoritative, Copula

Primarily used in literary work


Noun + である
[な]Adjective + である


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About である

である (or であります) is a construction in Japanese that is considered to be the formal equivalent of . This should not be confused with the polite speech word です, as である is simply a combination of the conjunctive form of , and the う - Verb, ある.
である may be used in any place that would usually be used, but is most likely to be found at the end of sentences/statements.
  • 日本一(にほんいち)デカイ博物館(はくぶつかん)この博物館(はくぶつかん)である
    The largest museum in Japan is this one.
  • ここから(かな)しいこと()きるのである
    This is where something sad starts to happen. (Here comes the sad bit)
  • 私達(わたしたち)()えた運命(うんめい)であります
    It is destiny that we met.
Fun Fact
Because the な that is used with な-Adjectives is simply the attributive form of , である may replace な or の when connecting one noun to another. The attributive form just means the form of a word that can be directly linked to a noun. As ある's attributive form is just ある, it does not need to be modifed at all.
  • 大変(たいへん)であること(ひと)やらせる()くない
    It is not good to make someone else do difficult things.
  • 重要(じゅうよう)である箇所(かしょ)まとめた資料(しりょう)こちらです
    These are the documents highlighting all the important sections.
However, although this is grammatically correct, it would sound quite stiff in many circumstances, and should be avoided in standard speech.
であります (as opposed to である) is very formal, and will almost exclusively be used by people within jobs that absolutely require this level of formality (politics, police force, military, etc). Due to this, its use within regular conversation will sound stiff, or perhaps even like the speaker is jokingly being over polite.
  • 名前(なまえ)はタナカであります
    My name is Tanaka! (Responding to a person in a higher rank in a military)
  • 最後(さいご)プリン()べた(わたし)であります
    I am the one who ate the last pudding. (Jokingly polite)




    He is very handsome.


    He was a pilot.


    It is a very interesting drama.


    Title: 'I am a cat.'


    My dream is to be successful overseas.

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である – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (6 in total)

  • Pushindawood


    @CrisH Hey! You should be getting the hint “[formal・literature・past]” for this particular sentence (not “polite”). Both であった and でありました are valid/acceptable answers here. Cheers!

  • CrisH


    I was fairly sure it asked for the polite version - I would double-check (is that what you’ve done?), but I don’t think we end-users can see the hints for each question anywhere unless we’re currently answering the questions. Is that right?
    I know I do sometimes mix up formal with polite, so that probably is it. I just wanted to confirm.

  • Pushindawood


    Yes, I made sure when you made your comment that the hint displayed was “[formal・literature・past]." Cheers!

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