How to say Japanese sentences and questions in present perfect tense

If you want to use present perfect in Japanese, you will need to use the so called "ta-form" of the verbs. As for the detailed answer, in the following few paragraphs, I will show you a special usage of the simple Japanese past tense. Later on you will need this structure many times, as such I recommend you to understand it as much as possible.

If you want to use present perfect in Japanese, you will need to use the so called "ta-form" of the verbs


The person (especially if he or she is Japanese) is usually interested in what you have done in the past. For instance you will be asked several times if you have been to Japan, if you have read manga or if you have drunk sake. In these cases the existence or the non-existence of the given action is important as opposed to the action itself. As such you will need to modify the simple past tense form a bit.

The following teaching material will be about this modification and I will also give you a few examples. I believe this structure is very important in Japanese. This is especially true if you are in Japan, or you are talking to a Japanese person. These are the cases when it comes handy if you can talk about things that you have done in the past. This helps your partner to form an approximate image of your character and he won't take you to a sushi restaurant to guide you around if you have already been there.

As I have already mentioned, you will need the so-called ta-form when creating present perfect tense in Japanese. You can find these rules in a previous material, and here is a short review as well:

Conjugation rules of the ta-form:

  • Rule for group 1: You need to change the final hiragana based on the following list:
  • る、う、つ ー> った
  • む、ぶ、ぬ ー> んだ
  • ぐ ー> いだ
  • す ー> した
  • く  ー> いた

For example:

  • 送る(おくる)(to send) ー 送った 
  • 買う(かう) (to buy)ー 買った 
  • 打つ(うつ) (to hit)ー 打った 
  • 飲む(のむ) (to drink)ー 飲んだ 
  • 死ぬ(しぬ) (to die)ー 死んだ 
  • 脱ぐ(ぬぐ) (to take off)ー 脱いだ 
  • 貸す(かす) (to lend)ー 貸した 
  • 書く(かく) (to write)ー 書いた 

  • Rule for group 2: You need to replace 'る' with 'た' at the end of the verb

For example:

  • 食べる(たべる) ー 食べた(to eat)

  • Rule for group 3:
  • する ー した
  • 来る (くる) ー 来た (きた)

At this point I suppose you can conjugate Japanese verbs into their simple past tense form. The next step is to emphasize that these actions (facts) indeed happened in the past (or not). The word "fact" can be expressed in the following two ways in Japanese:

  • こと「abstract fact」kanji: 事
  • もの「physical fact」kanji: 物

I advise you to learn these words with the corresponding kanjis. Later, if you only know their hiragana writing it is pretty easy to misuse them.

In this case, since we are stating or negating the existing of an abstract fact, we will need to use the word こと「事」. If this is clear for you, you are able to create nouns out of verbs:

  • 食「た」べたこと
  • dining in the past「noun」
  • 飲「の」んだこと
  • drinking in the past「noun」
  • 読「よ」んだこと
  • reading in the past「noun」
  • 行「い」ったこと
  • going in the past「noun」

The last step is to state or negate the existence of these facts. You can do it in a simple (not polite, direct) form, by attaching がある or a がない to the end of the sentence. As for the previous examples:

  • 食べたことがある OR 食べたことがない
  • I have eaten OR I have not eaten
  • 飲んだことがある OR 飲んだことがない
  • I have drunk OR I have not drunk
  • 読んだことがある OR 読んだことがない
  • I have read OR I have not read
  • 行ったことがある OR 行ったことがない
  • I have gone (been) OR I have not gone (been)

This English translation would sound a bit odd if I neglected the personal pronouns, but keep in mind that there is no personal pronoun in the Japanese expressions. The Japanese expressions would be complete (corresponding to the English translations) if I used personal pronouns, which is often omitted by the speaker (if it is obvious).

Read more >> How to conjugate Japanese conditional form

These expressions, in their simple form can be used, when you are talking to your friends or a person, who is "socially equal to you" in the given situation. This is indeed very difficult to judge... If this is not the case, you will need to make your speech more polite, otherwise you might sound very rude. This can be achieved by changing ある to あります and ない to ありません at the end of the sentences.

  • 食べたことがあります OR 食べたことがありません
  • I have eaten OR I have not eaten
  • 飲んだことがあります OR 飲んだことがありません
  • I have drunk OR I have not drunk
  • 読んだことがあります OR 読んだことがありません
  • I have read OR I have not read
  • 行ったことがあります OR 行ったことがありません
  • I have gone (been) OR I have not gone (been)

If this is all clear, I would like to show you three simple sentences that are used very often when you are communicating in Japan. These sentences already include personal pronouns and are in a honorific form.

  • 私「わたし」はお寿司「すし」を食べたことがあります。
  • I have (already) eaten sushi.
  • 私「わたし」は日本「にほん」に行ったことがありません。
  • I have not been to Japan.
  • 私「わたし」は日本酒「にほんしゅ」を飲んだことがあります。
  • I have drunk (tried) sake.

Register for free on imulat.com if you would like to practice the ta-form, te-form or the classification of Japanese verbs! You can also get in touch with native Japanese speakers on imulat.com!

Finally let's see how to create questions out of these sentences. In this case you can simply attach a か at the end of the sentences, which will turn them into questions in Japanese.

  • お寿司「すし」を食べたことがありますか。
  • Have you ever eaten sushi before?
  • 日本「にほん」は行ったことがありませんか。
  • Haven't you ever been to Japan?
  • 日本酒「にほんしゅ」を飲んだことがありますか。
  • Have you ever drunk sake before?

These questions are already in a polite form, so feel free to use them when you are talking to your Japanese boss or professor.

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