In a chat with a Japanese person, he told me 「ドイツ語で読んだことのある本を日本語で読んでみるのはどうですか?」 Context is that we talked about books.

Can someone translate that into English and explain me what the ことのある本 part means?

I saw this ある already sometimes but I never understood it. Does ある本 mean "existing book"?

EDIT: Thinking about it again, I wondered if 「ドイツ語で読んだ本を日本語で読んでみるのはどうですか?」means the same as the other sentence above. Or is there a difference?

  • I've seen ある before nouns translated as "a certain" or "a specific". Though sometimes I find the translation would work better by making it the indefinite article "a". Jul 9, 2019 at 15:13
  • 2
    If you knew the sentence can be changed to ドイツ語で読んだことがある本, could you understand it? Jul 9, 2019 at 15:31
  • ドイツ語で読んだことがある means "(I) read in German", right? Or: "There is the event of me having read in German". But I don't know how to incorporate 本 into this English sentence to make sense. Jul 9, 2019 at 16:58

1 Answer 1


The sentence can be changed to ドイツ語で読んだことがある本. の is used as a subject marker in some cases.

したことがある means "have experience in doing", and present perfect tense is used for it such as "Have you been to Japan?(日本に行ったことがありますか?).

ドイツ語で読んだことがある本 is a relative clause. It is translated as "The book that you have read before in German".

It means almost the same as "ドイツ語で読んだ本". If I say about a little difference, 読んだ is past tense and 読んだことがある is an experience.

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