How would "I had an exam yesterday" be translated?



If both of the above are correct, what is the difference between them?


Your first sentence is almost grammatical. It has one big problem, though: ある doesn't take a direct object (marked with を). If you replaced it with が, it would be grammatical with the intended meaning:


I think in this context you could also say 試験{しけん}:


Alternatively, you can use the verb 受{う}ける, saying you took a test rather than had a test:


Notice the を here rather than が, because テスト is the direct object of 受けました.

Your second sentence is grammatical but テストをする wouldn't be my first choice to express having a test. I think that phrase would be more likely if you were giving someone else a test than taking one yourself.

  • is うける the same meaning as もらいます? – Ahmed Abdel Moneim Elket Jan 8 '14 at 10:29
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    @AhmedAbdelMoneimElket, the two verbs do not mean the same thing. もらう is to receive - for example to receive a present. うける is to take, with take a test being one of the more common uses. – virmaior Jan 8 '14 at 12:04

First, there is a grammatical mistake. Your first sentence needs to use , not .

As for the difference, a literal translation should make it clear.


This means, "there was a test yesterday."


"Yesterday, (I) tested." Note this seems a little incomplete. For this sentence to work, we'd need to know the context of what was tested. It could maybe be an answer to a question, something like, 実験の結果はいつテストをしましたか? But I'm told that's a little awkward.

In any case, if you wanted to say you had taken a test yesterday, and emphasize your participation, as opposed to the simple existence of the test (which is what your first example does), you would say something like 昨日、先生にテストされた, which is, "yesterday, (I) was tested by my teacher."

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    Literal translation will NOT make things clear in this case. That is because テストをした is said much more often by the teacher than by the student in the real Japanese-speaking world. – l'électeur Jan 8 '14 at 11:17
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    Wow, @TokyoNagoya, that is quite hostile comment. Is it really so bad that I offered a way of comparing the sentences by offering their English counterparts? That you can offer more insight with suggestions of who might say these sentences is fine, but the clarity of the comparison is up to the individual to decide. It would be more helpful to the site to be supportive with more information, not swatting down subtleties you don't like. – Questioner Jan 8 '14 at 11:51
  • @TokyoNagoya, I actually appreciate it somewhat when you swat me down when what I say is wrong, but I think considering for the level of the asker's question, I don't think DaveMG errs with the level of explanation. – virmaior Jan 8 '14 at 12:07
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    There is actually a literal translation which works for テストする, but it is not the one given in this answer. Namely, "Yesterday, (I) tested (someone)." (昨日(人を)テストした。) -- that is to say, the transitive verb "to test" in English has similar semantics to テストする in Japanese. This is why you need to say "I had a test yesterday." (昨日テストがあった) or "I was tested (by someone) yesterday." (昨日(人に)テストされた。) – Darius Jahandarie Jan 8 '14 at 19:43
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    @virmaior: No one should ever "swat down" anyone's answer. We're all here to learn Japanese, not punish people for what they don't know. If there is something wrong with an answer, as with mine, then edits or comments should contain suggestions to improve them. That way, the both the person who asked the original question can learn that much more, and the person who suggested the partially incorrect answer can both learn, and everyone wins that much more. – Questioner Jan 9 '14 at 7:21

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