Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In the "ことがあります" construction about past experiences, when is "事" used, and when is "こと" used?

The textbook used in class uses "こと":

六本木の おんせんに 行った ことがあります。

If it wanted to use "事" instead of "こと", it could have, as that kanji was taught in the same lesson. (Lesson 5 of "Japanese for Busy People II", revised 3rd edition)

However, Wiktionary says that the kanji form can be used, and "事があります" gets some hits in the Tanaka corpus on jisho.org

When is "事" used, and when is "こと" used?

share|improve this question
In short, use 事 for "real" nouns and use こと for "dummy" nouns. 知っている事、三つの事、習い事 vs. 行ったことがある/ない、書くこと、ヘレンのこと – l'électeur May 18 '14 at 1:01
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I believe those two (ことがある and 事がある) are the same construction in terms of meaning and they only differ by the way こと is spelled.

こと used as a grammatical construction, like the one in the question, is more often spelled using hiragana in modern Japanese.

share|improve this answer
To give an equivalent English example: The pie that I ate. The word "that" there is used as a grammatical construction rather than to have the specific meaning of pointing at something in the world (e.g. look at that cat!) – virmaior May 17 '14 at 11:43

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.