Verb past tense (〜た form )+ ことがある ( = (~ ta) + koto ga aru)

= Kono kawaii inu, dokokade mita koto ga aru naa…
= (I think I have seen this cute dog somewhere.)
= This cute dog looks familiar…
= Uwaa henna inu!
= Wow! What a strange dog!

Hi everyone!

I just saw a VERY cute dog.  She looked very familiar but I can’t remember where I’d seen her…
Anyway, let’s get started!  Today’s lesson is for beginners. !beginners!
We will learn how to describe one’s experiences.
🔹 Verb past tense + ことがある( = kotoga aru)
to have (ever) done something, to have experienced doing something
Note: There are many ways to express English Present Perfect tense in Japanese and this pattern is one of them.
Go check for the pattern Verb present tense/Adj+ ことがある(=koto ga aru)
You use this form when you talk about your experiences regardless of when you did it.
If you are just talking about what you have done or what you did at a particular time in the past, you use “present perfect tense” or “simple past tense”.

Ex. I have done my homework. (I did/finished my homework)

● 宿題をした or 宿題をやった。
= Shukudai wo shita / yatta.If you say
= Shukudai wo shita koto ga aru / Shukudai wo yatta koto ga aru
This can be translated to “I have experienced doing my homework.”  which sounds strange.


⭐️ How to form  :

*verb past tense + ことがある ( = koto ga aru)
*(more polite) verb past tense + ことがあります ( = koto ga arimasu)
🔹 negative form :
*verb past tense + ことがない ( = koto ga nai)
*(more polite) verb past tense + ことがないです ( = koto ga nai desu)
*verb past tense + ことがありません ( = koto ga arimasen)
食べる ( = taberu) = to eat
:rrrr: (past tense) 食べた ( = tabeta) + ことがある( = koto ga aru)
:rrrr: 食べことがある ( = tabeta koto ga aru) = to have (ever) eaten/to have had
Ex. 納豆を食べことがあります
= Nattou wo tabeta koto ga arimasu ka?
= Have you ever had Natto (fermented soybeans)?

In casual Japanese, we often omit particles. 

(In this case omit  ( = wo) and ( = ga))


Ex. 納豆食べことある
= Nattou tabeta koto aru?
= Have you ever had Natto?



= Nattou wo nandomo tabeta koto ga arimasu.

= I have had Natto many times.
Ex. 納豆を食べたことがありません
=Nattou wo tabeta koto ga arimasen.
= I have never had Natto.
Ex. 納豆を食べことがないです。
= Nattou wo tabeta koto ga nai desu.
= I have never had Natto.
Again, in casual Japanese, we tend to omit the particles. Notice in the following sentence that the and are missing.
Ex. 納豆、食べたことない
= Nattou, tabeta koto nai.
(I know this is grammatically wrong. You don’t usually learn this  in your Japanese class, but I’ll teach you this anyway because it’s quite common in everyday conversation.)
Let’s see more example sentences describing one’s experiences using
:rrrr: verb past tense + ことがある(=koto ga aru)
Ex. 日本に行っことがありますか
= Nihon ni itta koto ga arimasuka?
= Have you ever been to Japan?
Ex. はい、でもまだ京都に行っことがありません
= Hai, demo mada Kyouto ni itta koto ga arimasen.
= Yes, but I haven’t been to Kyoto yet.
Or if you have been to Kyoto just once and you feel like it is not enough,
Ex. はい、でもまだ京都に一度しか行ったことがありません
= Hai, demo mada Kyouto ni ichido shika itta koto ga arimasen.
= Yes but I’ve only been to Kyoto once.
Ex. 私は京都に行ったことがあります
= Watashi wa Kyoto ni itta koto ga arimasu.
= I have been to Kyoto.
Note :
It doesn’t matter when you went there in this sentence.  The fact that you have been there before is all that matters.
If you want to say a particular time in the past, for example
I went to Kyoto last year.
you wouldn’t use ~たことがある( = ta koto ga aru)
X 私は去年、京都に行ったことがあります
= Watashi wa kyonen Kyouto ni itta koto ga arimasu.
Instead, you would use the simple past.
= Watashi wa kyonen Kyoto ni itta/ ikimashita.

Ex. このテレビ番組を観ことがあります

= Kono terebi bangumi wo mita koto ga arimasu.
= I have seen this TV show before.


Note: If you say

この番組を観た。/ 観ました。

= Kono bangumi wo mita./ mimasita.

It means “I have seen this TV program/ I saw this TV show at some specific time in the past.)



= Kono apuri wo tameshita koto ga nai.
= I have never tried this app before.

Note: If you want to say 


I haven’t tried this app yet.

you can simply use the present tense.


このアプリをまだ試していない/ いません

= Kono apuri wo mada tameshite inai. / imasen.


Ex. カラオケで歌っことがないです。

= Karaoke de utatta koto ga nai desu.

= I have never sung Karaoke before.


Ex. 一度も野球をした (or やっ)ことがありません

= Ichidomo yakyuu wo shita (or yatta) koto ga arimasen.

= I have never played baseball.

:rrrr:  一度も = ichidomo = to stress “never, not even once


Ex. この曲聞いたことない?/ この曲聞いたことある(casual)

= Kono kyoku kiita kotonai? / Kono kyoku kiita koto aru?

= Have you ever heard this song before?

= Doesn’t this song sound familiar?

(In case you wonder why we use ない ( = nai) in an affirmative sentence, go to ない( = nai) lesson.)


Ex. ううん、聞いことない(casual)

= Uun, kiita koto nai.

= No, I’ve never heard of it.
Ex. マギー先生のサイトで日本語の勉強をしことがありますか
= Maggie sensei no saito de nihongo no benkyou wo shita koto ga arimasu ka?
= Have you ever studied Japanese at Maggie Sensei’s site?
Ex. こんな面白い本、読んだことがない
= Konna omoshiroi hon, yonda koto ga nai.
= I have never read a book this interesting.
= This is the most interesting book I have ever read.
Ex. 今まで考えたことがなかったけれども将来、どうしよう。
= Imamade kangaeta koto ga nakatta keredomo shourai, doushyou.
= I have never thought about this, but what am I going to do in my future…
Ex. このラーメンは食べたことがないぐらい美味しい。
= Kono raamen wa tabeta koto ga nai gurai oishii.
= This ramen is the best I ever had.
= Okonomiyaki senbei wo tabeta koto ga arimasuka?
= Have you ever tried “Okonomiyaki senbei”?

= Ah, mae, dareka ni sore moratta koto ga arimasu.

= Oh, I have gotten them from someone before.
(Someone gave me those before.)

マギー先生より= Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei
= Kagami de jibun wo mita koto ga arimasen deshita.
= I had never seen myself in the mirror.
= Watashi, yappari kawaii…
= I already knew this, but…I AM  cute…
= Eh? Watashi no koto kawaii to omotta koto naino?
= What? You’ve never thought I was cute?


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  1. Hello Maggie sensei! Thank you very much for your thorough explanation.

    However, I have come across a sentence in which instead of ことがありません, they use ことがありませんでした. The sentence is 日本に来る前に海を見たことがありませんでした。日本に来て、初めて見ました。In my opinion, following this lesson I would have opted for ことがありません. The past tense is already used in 見た. However, according to the key, it’s wrong. Could you please explain it?

    Thank you very much. I hope you have a nice day!

    1. Hello Sky
      You can decide which tense to use depending on the time which you focus on.
      日本に来る前 = before I came to Japan. This is the past. When are talking about your past experience in the past you use the past tense  見たことがありませんでした。

      If you are talking about your experience up to now.
      I have never seen the ocean (→I haven’t seen the ocean up to now.)
      The focus time is “now” so you say 海を見たことがありません。

  2. Maggie Sensei, 「こといます」is an incorrect grammar? I heard a person in a gameplay say 「自分の声がアニメキャラみたいと思ったこといますか」, I’m completely sure that he said that, but I don’t know if he is a native japanese speaker so maybe he just was wrong using an incorrect grammar and correct in that case would be ありますか not いますか?

    1. Hello David,
      Yes, こといます is wrong and you don’t say 思ったこといますか
      The only possibility that I can think of is…that person said
      Then it is a correct expression.

      1. Thank you for your answer 💛💛🧡🧡🧡, I realised that he study japanese but is not a native speaker so maybe he just made a mistake using iru instead of aru, because in the subtitles he put “Have you ever thought that your voice sounds like an anime character?”. Thank you for make things clear, that situation confused me but it’s useful to learn!

  3. 質問があります。
    この文で 例えば、(アンナさんは老人ホームでボレンチアをして経験したこと感じしたことを話しました。
    その上の(ことがある、) 同じ意味ですか

    I mean in this sentence of the part where it’s used ( 経験したこと、カンジシアことを話しました)even though the “ga” and aru in ( ことがある)is not used?

    1. Hi テリー
      →(I think there is a typoe) アンナさんは老人ホームでボボランティアをして経験したこと感じたことを話しました。

      Q: その上の(ことがある、) 同じ意味ですか?

      ことがある is talking about one’s experiences.
      Anna has worked at a nursing home. (She has an experience of working at a nursing home)

      Now こと is used to nominalize a verb
      So Anna talked about the followings,
      1) ボランティアをして経験したこと things that Anna experienced through her volunteer work at a nursing home
      2) 感じたこと things that she felt there = How she felt there.

      1. Is it the same( こと)that means experiencing something like ( ことがある)
        In the (経験したことかんじたこと)part ?
        If it is why is it now using “ が” and “ある”
        I’m not sure if this koto is a nomilized or not, and the nominalizing koto is confusing too

  4. 質問があります。
    この文で 例えば、(アンナさんは老人ホームでボレンチアをして経験したこと感じしたことを話しました。
    その上の(ことがある、) 同じ意味ですか

  5. Hello Maggie Sensei. It is always a pleasure to read your posts, totemo omoshiroi desu!

    I have a doubt: here you showed the grammar of “koto ga aru” related to experience.

    Please, could you explain when it is used in the way of “sometimes”, expressing occasion and do on?
    If so, am I asking too much for explaining the difference between “koto ga aru” and “koto mo aru”?

    1. Hello, TomRibas,

      I have a lesson on “sometimes happens” Click here.

      Verb past tense +ことがある = talking about one’s experiences
      Verb present tense / adjective + ことがある = sometimes ~

  6. Just have a quick question.

    あなたのこと全部好きです。does this koto refer to about?

    あなたには日本語の一番難しいのことは? is this correct…………


    1. @Rodney

      The literal meaning “I like (all) things about you” but it means “I like/love you”
      あなたには日本語の一番難しいのことは? →日本語で一番難しいことは(なんですか)?is more natural.
      (You don’t actually need to say あなた but if you want, あなたが日本語で一番難しいと思うことは何ですか?”

  7. Thank you for that lesson, but to make things clearer, if I wanted to say I like ALL the things about someone/something would it be something like subete or zenbou no koto? Thanks

  8. Sorry,I just wanted to ask the difference between these 2 sentences regarding the use of koto:
    1)kimi ga suki desu
    2)kimi no koto ga suki desu
    Does koto here means all the things about you or just things/thoughts about you? Thanks in advance!!

  9. If I may ask a question.

    I hear that ている has a usage of experience where you’ve done something before.[As if it doesn’t have many usages to begin with] Seems like たことがある also has that same sort of nuance.

    本を書いている (Example I used)
    Both seem to mean “I have written a book”

    Is there any major difference I should know about? Thanks for your time.

    1. @Gallus

      You are right. You use 〜ている to have experiences as well.

      Let’s compare the following two sentences.

      a) 彼は日本について多くの本を書いている作家です。
      b) 彼は日本について多くの本を書いたことがある作家です。

      They both could mean the same “He is a writer who has written many books on Japan.”
      But the difference is
      a) He has been writing many books on Japan and he is still writing a book on Japan.
      b) This sentence just focuses on his past experiences. He have written many books on Japan but he may writes about something else or he stops writing now.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to reply!

        It seems a)Focuses on something related to the present and b)Focuses on a past event that has nothing to do with the present.

        Am I correct?

        (I posted this but it didn’t seem to pop up. So if there are two instances of this same message I apologize.)

        1. @Gallus

          Yes and No. I wouldn’t say b) has nothing to do with the present because that experience made the present state.
          a) whether focusing on something that started in the past and continues in the present or one’s experiences up to the present.

          b) one’s experiences
          The idea is the same in English, “have done something”

  10. boucingheart! マギー先生、本当にありがとうございました。マギー先生が大好き。 !happyface! :wink:

    1. @マイラン

      Love you,too! boucingheart!

    1. @robbie jean salinas

      Hello, the usage of こと is very complicated and it is on the request lessons. But maybe if you focus on the function of the particles, it will be easier for you to know which one to use.

      ★wa/ ga = subject marker

      Ex. 毎日、勉強することは大切です。
      = Mainichi, benkyou suru koto wa taisetsu desu.
      = Studying everyday is important.

      Ex. 毎日、勉強することが大切です。
      = Mainichi, benkyou suru koto ga taisetsu desu.
      = Studying everyday is important.
      (Emphasizing “studying everyday”)

      ★wo = object marker (Doing something is an object)

      Ex. 毎日勉強することをやめないで。
      = Mainichi benkyou suru koto wo yamenaide.
      = Don’t stop studying everyday.

      Feel free to practice making example sentences here. I will check them for you.

  11. ありがとうございました. For me this is a very confusing form that I can now practice using your helpful examples! I completed Rosetta Stone Japanese and there are 3 different “koto” pattern sentences that they use and don’t explain. I think they are:
    1) verb + koto ga dekiru = able to do the verb: inu wa oyogu koto ga dekimasu – the dog is able to swim.
    2) thinking about someone/something = subject + no koto wo kangaete imasu – inu no koto wo kangaete imasul- I am thinking about the dog
    3) and they use the “life experience” form you describe here.
    I was going crazy trying to figure this out! Thanks again!

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