Nihongo for Beginners: Have you ever?



Photo by Oishi Kuranosuke / Published under Flickr Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

By Nicholas Bradley

Today’s column is about learning to make “Have you ever…?” statements. This is a very simple and useful form that comes in handy when having conversations. Also, if you are a junior high school ALT, you should be coming up to this area of the English syllabus soon with your third year students, so it’ll be useful to know.

Have you ever eaten sushi?
Plain Casual Form: すしを食べたことある? / Sushi o tabeta koto aru?
“Masu” Polite Form: すしを食べたことがありますか? / Sushi o tabeta koto ga arimasu ka?

These sentences are easy to construct. Take the simple past form of a verb, add 「こと」and then ask if it exists, i.e. 「ある?」 or 「がありますか?」

Plain: 〜た+こと+ある? / ~ta + koto + aru ?
Polite: 〜た+こと+が+ありますか? / ~ta + koto + ga + arimasu ?

Here are examples with plain and “masu” polite forms.

Plain: 沖縄に行ったことある? / Okinawa ni itta koto aru?
Polite: 沖縄に行ったことがありますか? / Okinawa ni itta koto ga arimasu ka?
Translation: Have you ever been to Okinawa?

Plain: 焼酎を飲んだことある? / Shochu o nonda koto aru?
Polite: 焼酎を飲んだことがありますか? / Shochu o nonda koto ga arimasu ka?
Translation: Have you ever drunk shochu?

Plain: 猿とテニスをしたことある? / Saru to tenisu o shita koto aru?
Polite: 猿さんとテニスをしたことがありますか? / Saru-san to tenisu o shita koto go arimasu ka?
Translation: Have you ever played tennis with a monkey? (Extremely useful sentence!)

Try to make a few of your own and show them to your teachers or bring them up in conversation. Good luck and have fun!