How To Ask “Do You Have” In Japanese

There are several ways to ask a person if they have something in Japanese, and it mostly depends on the thing you’re asking about. In today’s lesson you’ll learn how to ask “do you have” in Japanese.

There are four sections below and each one covers a different Japanese verb. I’ve tried to place them in an order that makes sense, so feel free to check each one out and see if it’s the one you’re looking for.

Using 持つ For Ownership

The first verb that you can use to ask a person if they have something is 持つ (motsu).

A couple of the dictionary definitions for this word include “to hold (in one’s hand); to have; to own” and this is generally the word that you will use when you ask someone if they’ve got a certain item on them at the moment or if they own something.

In order to use this verb to ask a person if they have something, you’ll need to conjugate it into one of the following forms:

  1. 持っている
  2. 持っています

The first one is casual and the second one is polite. These are the forms of the verb that express a “current and continuing” possession and ownership of the item.

  • 本をたくさん持っていますか。
  • hon o takusan motte imasu ka.
  • Do you have (own) a lot of books?

Let’s say you’ve met someone new for the first time and you two decide to go grab some lunch together. You might ask them if they have a car because you’d prefer it if they drive.

  • 車を持っていますか?
  • kuruma o motte imasu ka?
  • Do you have (own) a car?

From these last two example sentences you can see that the basic pattern to ask a person if they have something in Japanese is to state the item in question first, followed by the を (o) particle.

Then you use the verb we’ve been going over in this section followed by the question particle か (ka) that turns the whole sentence into a question.

You can use this as your basic formula, but keep in mind that there are other ways to form this question when you’re in a more casual context.

  • 現金、持ってる?
  • genkin, motteru?
  • You got cash (on you)?

Using ある For Existence

The next way to ask someone if they have something involves the verb 有る (aru) which is usually written in just hiragana as ある.

Now if you’re familiar with this verb, you’ll know that it’s commonly used for “to be; to exist; to have” and is commonly used in places like restaurants or bars.

  • ビールはありますか?
  • biiru wa arimasu ka?
  • Do you have beer?

What you can see is that this way of asking a person if they “have something” is different from the first way we covered because you’re not asking them if they personally own the item, but rather if that item exists at whatever establishment you’re currently at.

Another way to phrase this last example sentence would be “is there beer at this place?” or “does beer exist here?”

You could also use it with a friend if you wanted to ask if they have beer in the fridge and said beer is available to guests.

The pattern for this sentence is the item you want to ask about followed by the particle は (wa). Then you’ll use あります as the verb followed by か to make it a question.

Using the particle は in these types of questions is like saying “as for item x” and such.

The word あります can also be used when you want to ask a person if they have something intangible, such as experience with a particular subject.

  • マネジメント経験はありますか?
  • manejimento keiken wa arimasu ka?
  • Do you have management experience?


Using いる For People

The next verb we are going to cover is 居る (iru) which also means “to be; to exist; to have” just like the last verb we covered. In addition to that, this verb is also written in hiragana most of the time as いる.

The difference between this verb (いる) and the last one (ある) is that いる is used for people.

So if you wanted to ask a person if they have a girlfriend, you would use いる to do so.

  • 彼女がいる?
  • kanojo ga iru?
  • Got a girlfriend?
  • Do you have a girlfriend?

Or if you’re talking to someone about kids and you’re wondering if they have any, you can use います (the polite form of いる) to ask them about it.

  • 子供がいますか?
  • kodomo ga imasu ka?
  • Do you have kids?

So be sure to use いる when talking about people.

Using 飼う For Pets

Pets are kind of a special case when you want to ask a person if they have any.

The correct verb to use in this situation is 飼う (kau) which means “to keep (a pet or other animal); to have; to own.”

So if you wanted to ask your friend if they have pets, you can do so with the next example sentence.

  • 何かペットを飼っていますか?
  • nanika petto o katte imasu ka?
  • Do you have any pets?

This verb functions similar to the first one we went over (持つ) in the sense that you have to use the te-iru or te-imasu form of the verb in order to say that you “currently have” and “continue to have” a pet.

If you’re chillin’ with a friend and want to ask them about a specific type of pet, for example a dog, then you can do so with the next sentence.

  • 犬、飼ってる?
  • inu, katteru?
  • Got a dog?
  • Do you have a dog?

A lot of times in information situations, and especially in spoken conversation, particles will get dropped and verbs will get contracted like in this last example.

Do You Have Any Questions?

We have covered four different ways to ask “do you have” in Japanese.

The first was focused on individual ownership of an item. The second was asking about availability. The third was used when talking about people. And the fourth was specifically for pets.

If you’ve got any questions to ask, or any comments that you would like to make, you can do so down below.

Thanks for reading!

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