As far as I understood, the nominalization is made with the neutral form of the verb followed by の or こと, as in the example

私は読むことが好きです。I like to read.

Though, I found this example where the verb is conjugated.

この本は、読んだことがありますか ? Have you ever read this book?

How is that possible?

2 Answers 2


この本は、読んだことがありますか ?

You're right that that is how nominalisation works. Whether you would call it nominalisation in this example is, I think, debatable.

...ことがある is a set phrase which means "there are times when..." / "there is a time when". So when you convert it to the question form you get "are there times when... " / "is there a time when ... " which more naturally becomes "have you ever ...".

I say it's a set phrase but you can analyse it quite simply. こと is a word with many meanings. If we pick 'occasion' as the translation in this case then we get the relative clause 読んだこと meaning "occasion when you read". I'm sure you already know that Xがありますか means "is there X", so you can quie naturally understand the whole sentence as "is there in occasion when you read this book", i.e. "have you ever read this book".

  • So in fact my example (この本は、読んだことがありますか ? Have you ever read this book?) is not a typical example of nominalization
    – Starckman
    Jan 22, 2021 at 20:21
  • From a strict grammar point of view I'm not sure whether it counts as nominalisation or not. I would certainly say that it isn;t a typical example of nominalisation. Jan 22, 2021 at 20:22
  • Regarding your first sentence, please see this link: japanese.stackexchange.com/a/58653/7944 Jan 22, 2021 at 20:24

こと is basically a lexical noun ‘thing/fact’, which is also used as a nominalizer. Like , it is preceded and followed by the forms that precede and follow nouns.

In Japanese, no distinction can be made between noun modification and relative clauses

Japanese. A Comprehensive Grammar [2nd ed.]-Routledge (2013)


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