Both of the following two sentences taken from two different sources contain 来たこと. How could this 来たこと be interpreted?

  • 「来れたら行く」と言って来たことある人ってほとんどいない気がします。 (source)
  • これは上流から見ているので奥から進んで来たことになる。 (source)

== Edit ==
Corrected the link of the second source.

  • My initial thought is that maybe こと is just the usual "こと as a nominalizer" usage, and that 言って来た and 進んで来た are compound verbs (くる shows up in many compounds, often to indicate "movement" towards the speaker) Jun 6, 2016 at 9:21
  • @WeirdlyCheezy 一文目の「言って来た」は複合動詞ではなく、「~~と言って、来た人はいない」って切れてます。(「~てくる」「~ていく」「~てくれる」等は複合動詞というより、て形+補助動詞「くる」「いく」「くれる」などの形じゃないでしょうか。一文目の例は、別の動詞ですが。)
    – chocolate
    Jun 6, 2016 at 10:15
  • @chocolate あ、なるほど。「、」と「が」をわかりやすくにする為に入れても、【「来れたら、行く」と言って、来た事がある人】は同じ意味ですよね。英語で、"People who say "I'll come if I am able to" and then actually show up pretty much don't exist"とはあってますか? Jun 6, 2016 at 10:36
  • @WeirdlyCheezy そおですね。。そんな感じだと思います(たぶん、直訳すると。) ^^
    – chocolate
    Jun 6, 2016 at 13:40

1 Answer 1


The simplest answer is 来たこと means "the fact/matter/thing of having come". It is a "noun-ed" form of 来る.

To the best of my knowledge there is no special connection between 来た and こと here (as opposed to other possible verbs). The こと is acting as a nominalizer (it converts the previous verb phrase into a noun phrase:

eg 走る->走ること "(to) run"->"the matter/thing of running".

こと can act this way with most verbs and many verb tenses. There also several other "general" nominalizers like もの and nominalizer の.

This page of Tae Kim's guide goes into more detail about the ことがある use: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/genericnouns

The first sentence can be roughly translated as

People who say "I'll come if I am able to" and then actually show up pretty much don't exist

or more loosely:

When people say "I'll come if I am able to", they generally don't have any intention of coming.

The second sentence is maybe along the lines of

Here, if we were looking from upstream, it (becomes clear/appears) that (you/it?) have (proceeded and) come from the inside.

with the exact translation depending on context.

[Edit: from the now-working source link we can see the context] He is talking about the picture of the stream, which he has been following from downstream to upstream. He is saying that if the picture was instead taken from the upstream direction, then we would be able to see how he had come from the inside (of the town, I'm guessing).

It might be easier to parse the first sentence with some extra punctuation and particles inserted explicitly as so:


来れたら、行く = "If (I) am able to, (I) will come." 言って、来たことがある人 = "A person who, having said that, has come"

  • Thank you. So こと here is used as a normalizer. I had corrected the link of the second source. Sorry for the confusion.
    – Ian Y.
    Jun 6, 2016 at 14:18
  • As I like to say, こと and の can act as "noun-afiers" Jun 7, 2016 at 17:57

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