たことがある (takotogaaru) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Have Done Before

Author Sandro Maglione for article 'たことがある (takotogaaru) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Have Done Before'

Sandro Maglione

たことがある (takotogaaru) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Have Done Before

たことがある (ta koto ga aru which means having done before) is an expression that is used to indicate something that has already been done in the past.

たことがある combines the noun こと and the expression がある to indicate that the fact of having performed the action "exists".

In this post we learn more about the meaning of たことがある, how it is formed, and when たことがある is used through real example sentences.

How to form the expression たことがある

Let's analyze how the expression たことがある is formed:

  • ~た: The た form is used to conjugate in the past tense the verb preceding this expression
  • こと: means thing, indicates that the thing has been done (the thing of having done...)
  • : Particle indicating the subject, in this case the thing that was done...
  • ある: means exist for inanimate entities (objects)

Literally this expression can be translated as the thing of having done this action exists, which simply means having done (in the past).


I have already read this book.

How and when to use たことがある

As we explained earlier, たことがある is used to say that the indicated action has already been done in the past.


I've seen this movie before.

In this sentence we use the verb ()る, which means to see. This verb is conjugated in its た form:


In the past tense ()た means to have seen, with the addition of ことがある it indicates that the action has already been done in the past:


We can therefore note how the expression ()たことがある literally indicates that the fact of having seen (()たこと, ()having seen and こと the fact of) is a thing that exists (がある).

Indicate something you've never done with たことがない

When instead you want to express something that you have never done, you can just change the verb ある (to exist) into its negative form ない (to not exist):



I've never bought sweets.

たことがある to ask if you've ever done something

You can often find the expression たことがある when asking someone if he has ever done something.

In these cases it is enough to add the particle か (or の in certain contexts) to convert the whole sentence into a question:


Have you ever played tennis?

Example sentences with たことがある


Have you ever been to Japan?


I have never lived in Tokyo.


Have you ever climbed Mount Fuji?