"I am not an elementary school student."
Can anyone else explain why this is arimasen instead of imasen? I known i can't be the only one still confused by this. No offense testmoogle but i got even more confused by your answer lol knowing imasu refers to living objects and arimasu has always worked up until now and now im like "?????"
An attempt at a simpler explanation:
です is basically a shortened form of であります (note the で at the beginning and the す on the end).
であります is the affirmative form, which is virtually always said as です instead.
ではありません is the negative form, which doesn't have a shortened form.
So the polite copula is usually in the following form:
- Affirmative: です
- Negative: ではありません
Sorry. Can't help with what you were saying about the word tiles, since I always use typing for the answers instead and never see the tiles.
However, I can help with why this sentence doesn't end in いません. The reason this has ありません on the end is because it's not talking about existence. The living / non-living distinction for the verbs いる (います) / ある (あります) is only for when the verb is being used as an existence verb.
ではありません is the negative polite form of である (or rather, it is the negative form of です). This is the copula, which links a subject complement with a subject. In this sentence the ありません is just part of the negative form of the copula. This doesn't state the existence of the subject; this instead says what the subject is (or, in this negative sentence, says what the subject is not--"not an elementary school student").
If the sentence were about existence, then, like you said, the answer would require います instead of あります, like this:
わたしは小学校にいます。 "I am at an elementary school."
The reason it's ありません is easier to understand if you start with the casual form of the sentence: 私は小学生じゃない
ない is the negative form of ある so changing it to the polite form makes it ありません the negative form of あります
Changing the じゃ into では isn't required to change the sentence to polite form but it does make it sound more formal.
However while ではありません is technically the correct grammar for is kind of sentence, people will still use じゃないです even in polite conversation because it's easier.
For the reason I explained in an earlier comment in this sentence discussion. Here's a link to jump to the comment chain I mean: