Japanese Grammar

Andrei Marks · June 15, 2008

Today I studied: ~た(だ)事がある

Which pretty much means: To have (done~) before.

This is one of those grammatical structures that opens up a whole new world of expression, and I also especially like the syntax. The structure can be divided into four parts. Take this for example, “I’ve eaten dog.”: 犬の肉を食べた事があります。

First up is a sentence phrase, anything can be said and the verb goes into the ~た (past tense) verb form. This is the meat of the sentence. Haha.

事 (こと)
Koto means matter, circumstances, or thing (not in the sense of a physical thing, but an affair).

Ga is a grammatical particle, used to indicate the subject of the sentence. Well, mostly…usually… haha, it’s complicated. I don’t even want to touch that yet, I was just looking at the Japanese Grammar entry on Wikipedia, yikes.

This is a verb, meaning to be, or to have, or to exist, but for inanimate objects. It’s used because koto is not a person or animal, but rather is an abstract concept. In the example sentence it’s conjugated in the positive “ありあす” (there is).

Putting that altogether, and fitting the English to the Japanese syntax “犬の肉を食べた事があります。” becomes:

Dog (‘s) meat (obj. particle) eaten affair (subj. particle) there is.

Haha, using foreign syntax with English always makes me happy for some reason. One of those unreasonable things that people enjoy, like taking the caps off their muffins or kissing their engagement ring. So really this is just one sentence embedded inside of another “There is a (having eaten dog meat) affair”. And of course this opens up all these possibilities…“Have you ever ~?” “I’ve never ~” “I have ~ before” etc. For those of you who’d like to express the negative of the dog-eating affair: Inu no niku tabeta koto ga arimasen!

That’s it, gotta chug along with this book, one more chapter left, hopefully I’ll start it tomorrow!


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