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How to say, "Have you ever... ?" in Japanese

Updated on January 26, 2015

How to say," Have you ever ...verbed...before?", in Japanese : Japanese Grammar Lesson #100

Have you ever ... verbed... (before)?

The koto ga aru construction will be useful in many different situations where you may want to strike up conversation. With this construction you will be able to ask questions like, "Have you ever been to Hokkaido", or "Have you ever snow-boarded, wind-surfed, been hang gliding, sky jumped, base jumped, bungie jumped, eaten a rhubarb pie, or seen a bear in the woods?" etc.

This grammar principle will come in handy in for your daily conversations in Japanese .The construction is as follows:

Verb in (Base TA) koto ga arimasu ka? Have you ever ...verbed...?

Put the verb in your question into base TA then add koto ga aru where aru can assume various levels of politeness. I think it will be better understood through examples. So... here goes.

ex.1 Have you ever went to Disneyland? Dizunirando ni itta koto ga arimasu ka?

The verb in example 1 is iku - to go. Put into base TA iku becomes itta. Add koto ga aru where aru has been changed to it's more polite form arimasu and presto - Have you ever went to Disneyland.

ex. 2. Have you ever drank sake before? Sake o nonda koto ga arimasu ka?

Notice that in this grammatical construction the verb is always in past tense, so in the first example we have 'to go' or itta in past tense or its equivalent been, while in example 2 we have drink in its past tense of drank followed by the addition of koto ga aru which literally means to have such a thing of...etc

If you need to reply to such a question as, "Have you ever drank sake before?" with a negative response simply change aru to its present negative form either in plain form or in any of its levels of politeness ever gozaru. So that one response to example 2. could be, sake o nonda koto ga arimasen, or, No, I have never taken a drink of sake before.

Possible responses to example 1.

a. Dizunirando ni itta koto ga arimasu (I have been to Disneyland before) or

b. Dizunirando ni itta koto ga arimasen. (I haven't been to Dinsneyland Before)

As always, Do Your Best! Ganbatte Ne!


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