I'm an elementary Japanese student, so please answer in simple kanji or kana, please.

I am trying to figure out the nuance between 見た and 見たことがある. Take this example:


Did you see my husband?



Have you seen my husband?

From what I know, ことがある is used to say that someone has had the experience of doing something. So, you could say things like, "I have gone to Japan before" / "I have had the experience of going to Japan before." 日本に行ったことがある。

In a situation where I, the speaker, am looking for my husband, which should I use? Would it be weird to say 私の夫を見たことがあるか because it sounds more like "Have you had the experience of seeing my husband before"? (Such a question would not be helpful if I was currently looking for him.)

Then, what about 私の夫を見たか? What is the difference? Is this an acceptable question to ask if I was looking for someone?

2 Answers 2


Your reasoning is correct. When you're looking for your husband, you would use simply 〜見た, and it is perfectly acceptable. As you noted, 〜見たことがある would mean, "Have you ever seen my husband?", and not fitting for the situation.

(Note: when speaking of your own husband, you usually say [主人]{しゅ・じん} or [旦那]{だん・な})

If you weren't sure which pattern to use in a conversation, you could of course reword it to say something like, "Do you know where my husband is?"



If you ask this to someone who knows both you and your husband, the natural choice is 「(きょう/きのう/先週【せんしゅう】/etc)私の夫を見ましたか?」 or 「...私の夫を見ませんでしたか?」. ~したことがある means having the experience of doing something throughout someone's life. For example, if you asked 夫を見たことがありますか to your friend who knows both you and your husband, she might be confused and say "Yes, of course, we've been friends for years", which would not help you find your husband.

Asking 「私の夫を見たことがありますか」 is okay when you say this to someone who might not know your husband.

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