In Persian, things "have" existence, for example

To vojod dari = You have existence

In English existing is not something to have, it's something to be,

You exist

Am I wrong in saying that?

Why is there this difference? Is it an accident or it goes back to how people have interpreted the concept of existence or something else?

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    Can you clarify what your question actually is? is it about the English word 'exist'? Is it about the comparison of the philosophical concept of existence in the two languages? All I can say for sure is that 'You have existence' sounds weird (in English of course). That goes for any abstract concept (as nouns): 'We have happiness' is really weird sounding (OK 'ungrammatical'). You'd say instead 'We are happy'. That is, this is not something special about the word 'existence'. – Mitch Jan 15 '12 at 15:49
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    You might get more answers in the direction you want at linguistics.stackexchange.org. – Mitch Jan 15 '12 at 15:50
  • You should try "accepting" the answer you like best (notice the 'tick' sign on the left, under the voting widget?) . If you don't think the answers solve your problem, see this – ApprenticeHacker Jan 15 '12 at 16:26

You're right in general terms, but we can say in English that something has life, and we can even say something has existence if it is postmodified in some way. We can, for example, say that 'A life form can have existence only if the necessary conditions for its survival are present.'

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    Perhaps you could add a referent for "it" (in "if it is postmodified"). Also, while one can say "A life form can have existence only if...", I think nobody would say that, and instead would say "A life form can exist only if..." – James Waldby - jwpat7 Jan 14 '12 at 22:19
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    Existence is not a different thing just because two languages chooses different ways of expressing it. In fact, existence is not a thing at all, but a very abstract concept. So abstract that it's not clear what it means. There's a whole branch of philosophy that studies what it means to be a thing; it's called Ontology, which is Greek for "words (logos) about things (ontos)". – John Lawler Jan 14 '12 at 22:45
  • In any event, a concept this abstract can be expressed as a noun like existence, a verb like exist, a participle like living, an idiom like there is, or a special word like Hebrew yeʃ. – John Lawler Jan 14 '12 at 22:49
  • I think we can take it for granted that the superficial meaning of both You exist and You have existence is so blindingly obvious that no-one could ever say it without having some more subtle additional point to make. One possible point could simply be that even if you feel you have absolutely nothing, a consoling voice might point out that you have existence - a highly desirable property from the perspective of the infinite number of "potential" things that aren't, never have been, and never will be blessed with this property. – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '12 at 22:52
  • ...it's a moot point as to whether a Boltzmann brain that quantum-mechanically flicked into and out of existence without ever impinging on the rest of the universe ever actually did exist. We're into the realms of the sound of one hand clapping here, I feel. – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '12 at 22:56

Languages like Persian, Arabic and Urdu tend to define existence as a possession. Interestingly, the word for "existence" is wujood ( وجود ) in all three. While in English, it is used as a verb or a quality i.e you exist.

"You have existence" or "You possess existence" are incorrect in English.

Although this could be just a coincidence, the best explanation for this is that, since the word وجود has Arabic origins, it refers to the Arab concept of existence. Most Arabs believe that existence is one of the bounties of God. Hence if God gave someone existence, existence is now that person's possession. Similarly, according to Arab beliefs, Death occurs when God takes away existence from that person.

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In English "To exist" exactly means "Vojood Dashtan". Although "Vojood Dashtan" literally means "To have existence", you cannot translate it like that. Word by word translation gets you nowhere most of the time.

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  • I think the OP is trying to ask why in Persian you use "To have existence" while in English it is "To exist". He is asking why there's this difference. – ApprenticeHacker Jan 15 '12 at 16:28

AHED defines exist as

exist, intr. v. : To have actual being

So to say "You exist" in English is to say, "You have actual being" -- or, "You have existence."

I don't see a contradiction; English just expresses it more compactly in this case.

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I'm Persian

vojood is an Arabic word not Persian and it is a thing someone can have , it means

essence ; existence

if you want to say I exist you should say "man hastam"

hast = exist , to be nist = not exist , not to be

hastam = I exist or I'm nistam = I don't exist or I'm not

oo hast = he exist or he/she is


ast = is

ast is used for third person only

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