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Lesson Transcript

Let’s take a closer look at the conversation.
Do you remember how Sasha asks,
"Excuse me, is there any salt?"
すみません、しおは ありますか。(Sumimasen, shio wa arimasu ka.)
First is すみません (sumimasen), meaning "excuse me," in this context. す-み-ま-せ-ん. すみません.
Next is しお (shio), "salt." し-お. しお.
After this is は (wa), the topic-marking particle. は。. は.
It marks "salt" as the topic of the sentence. Think of it like "as for" in the expression "as for salt."
Next is あります (arimasu), meaning "there is," あります. あります.
あります is a polite form the verb ある (aru), meaning "to exist." ある.
Last is か (ka), the question-marking particle. か. か.
This particle turns the sentence into a question.
All together, it's すみません、しおは ありますか。 This literally means, "Excuse me, As for salt, there is?" but it translates as "Excuse me, is there any salt?" or "Do you have any salt?"
すみません、しおは ありますか。(Sumimasen, shio wa arimasu ka.)
This question pattern is useful in a lot of situations — not just when you want to know if a shop carries a certain item.
Let’s take a closer look at the response.
Do you remember how the shop clerk says, "Yes, it’s here."
はい、こちらです。(Hai, kochira desu.)
First is はい (hai), "yes." はい. はい。
This answers Sasha's question.
Next is, こちらです (kochira desu) meaning, "It's here." こちらです。
Note, the shopkeeper says this while gesturing in the direction of the salt.
First is こちら (kochira), a polite word meaning "here." こちら. こちら.
And last is です(desu). In this case, it's like the "is" in "it is." です.
Together, it's こちらです. This literally means, "Here [it] is" but it translates as "It's here." こちらです.
This is a shortened form of それは こちらです。(Sore wa kochira desu.) "As for that, here [it] is."
The phrase それは, "as for that," is inferred through context, as the speaker is responding to a question about the salt, and therefore it is omitted.
All together, it's はい、こちらです, meaning, "Yes, it's here."
はい、こちらです。(Hai, kochira desu.)
The pattern is
{ITEM} は ありますか。
Is there any {ITEM}?
{ITEM} は ありますか。
To use this pattern, simply replace the {ITEM} placeholder with the thing you're looking for.
Imagine you're looking for milk.
ぎゅうにゅう (gyūnyū). ぎゅ-う-にゅ-う. ぎゅうにゅう.
Say, "Is there any milk?"
ぎゅうにゅうは ありますか。(Gyūnyū wa arimasu ka.)
"Is there any milk?"
ぎゅうにゅうは ありますか。(Gyūnyū wa arimasu ka.)
In most cases, Japanese doesn't make a distinction between singular and plural nouns. You'll use the same pattern when you're looking for salt, or an apple, or a dozen apples.
For example,
りんごは ありますか。(Ringo wa arimasu ka.)
can translate as “Are there any apples?”
Or “Is there an apple?” depending on the number of apples.
The English translation may alternate between singular and plural, but the Japanese pattern remains the same.