Grammar Info
N5 Lesson 10: 1/12

Have done before

Verb[た]+ こと + が + ある
Verb[た]+ こと + が + ない
Verb[た]+ こと + が + あります
Verb[た]+ こと + が + ありません
Part of Speech Expression
Word Type Verb
Register Standard
品詞 表現
単語の種類 動詞
使用域 一般
たことがある is a set expression in Japanese that is used for saying that ‘there has been a time that I have done (A)’.
The auxiliary verb will be added to the verb indicating what you have done, followed by こと - - ある. Like , こと is regularly used for nominalization (creating a noun-like phrase). However, cannot replace こと in this particular grammar pattern.
  • 富士山(ふじさん)へ行(い)たことがある
    Have you ever been to Mt. Fuji before?
  • 私(わたし)お菓子(かし)買(か)ったことが無(な)い
    I have never bought snacks.
From these examples, we can see that ない (the negative equivalent of ある) may also be used, when you want to express that you have ‘never’ done something.
Just like English, many set phrases cannot be adjusted in Japanese (in the same way that こと cannot be swapped with in this expression).
Fun Fact
In expressions where こと is followed by a verb phrase, may not be used. When used for nominalization, is almost always followed by a noun or adjective phrase. Here are some examples.
  • 彼(かれ)踊(おど)ことができる。
    He can do things like dance.
  • 来週(らいしゅう)休(やす)みから旅行(りょこう)へ行(い)くことにする。
    Because I have no work next week, I have decided to go traveling.
  • 今日(きょう)帰(かえ)のが遅(おそ)くなることになる。
    Today, I will end up coming home late.
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Genki I 2nd Edition
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みんなの日本語 I
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[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
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Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide
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