0

“ことはある” is often explained as the topical form of “ことがある” which simply means that things sometimes happen, or one has past experience with something when following a past verb.

However I keep seeing the “ことはある” and “ことはない” pattern as well seemingly as a way to topicalize the entire sentence in either a negative or positive way and nothing more. For instance one can say “まあ、ゲームは好きだけど、毎日する時間がない。” to say “Well, I do like video games, but I don't have the time to play them every day.” topicalizing “ゲーム” specifically, but I also see “ことはある” sometimes in a way that suggests that “ゲームが好きなことはあるけど、毎日する時間がない” is possible as well, seemingly not so much expressing that one “sometimes” likes videogames but topicalizing the entire “ゲームが好きだ” sentence rather than only the “ゲーム” part. Or for instance something like “仕事で忙しいことはないから、手伝ってあげるよ” which again would not express “never being busy with work” but used in a context where for some reason the listener might assume the speaker would be busy with work, with the speaker explicitly refuting that assumption.

Is this understanding correct or can “ことはある” only be used to express that something sometimes happens? Not affirm an assumption of something currently happening?

4
  • I don't think I understand the distinction you're trying to draw. Are you simply asking whether the expression should imply that the fact of something ある-ing is currently ongoing? Then my answer is no - just as the verb ある ordinarily used doesn't imply that, just like with any non-past verb. Mar 6 at 22:26
  • 忙しいときは外食することはある - When I am busy, it happens that I eat out. Do you mean this kind of sentence?
    – sundowner
    Mar 7 at 0:20
  • If I guessed correctly, are you actually thinking of a sentence like this?
    – naruto
    Mar 7 at 5:53
  • @naruto, no I think I specifically saw them with “ことはある” not “というのはある” but I suppose I was mistaken and misremembered then or maybe I misinterpreted the meaning. The context seemed to imply a meaning not of “sometimes” but some kind of acnowledgement of a current situation but maybe it simply meant “sometimes” after all.
    – Zorf
    Mar 7 at 13:14

1 Answer 1

3

ゲームが好きなことはあるけど、毎日する時間がない

This doesn't look like a natural sentence said by a native speaker. If someone definitely said it, perhaps it was supposed to mean either of the following:

  • ゲームが好き(だ)ということはあるけど、…
    Although it's a fact that I like games, ...
    Although such a fact/point exists that I like games, ...
  • ゲームが好きと思うことはあるけど、…
    Although I sometimes feel I like games, ...

~ということはある (or ~というのはある) is a way of admitting some fact as a factor worth considering. However, this requires という (or っていう/って) before こと. Maybe you remembered the sentence incorrectly and confused it with ことがある meaning "sometimes"?

仕事で忙しいことはないから、手伝ってあげるよ

The first part sounds like "I am never busy (these days)". If there is という, "仕事で忙しいということはない" would mean "I won't say I'm busy" or "It's not true that I am busy", implying "the listener might assume the speaker would be busy with work".

Compare these examples:

  1. それを食べたことある。
    I have eaten it.
  2. それを食べたことある。
    I have eaten it (though I've never made it myself).
    (Sentence 1 + contrastive-wa)
  3. それを食べたということはある。
    The fact exists that I ate it. / For one thing, it's true that I ate it.
3
  • Could you say: ゲームが好きではあるけど…
    – lynn
    Mar 7 at 16:30
  • @Lynn Yes, you can think of ゲームが好きというのはあるけど as a bit more emphatic version of it.
    – naruto
    Mar 7 at 22:27
  • So I found an actual example now in the first episode of ヴァンパイア男子寮 where ルカ tells 美人 “お前の血、クゾマズだが飲めないことはないな”. Surely this can't mean “but I never can't drink it” but more so “but it's not that it's undrinkable.”, what would you make of this sentence?
    – Zorf
    Apr 7 at 16:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .