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I don't understand what こと means in this sentence:

こんな 恐ろしい 事 は 聞いた こと が ない。

I initially thought it was a nominalizer, but nominalizers must be used with verbs at the neutral form, and also, only the nominalizer の but not こと can be used with perception verbs.

Intuitively, I guess it means something like: 'the fact that I heard something so horrible doesn't exist' (ない). But I am not sure.

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Yes you are right. Verb + こと means "the fact of 'Verb'". To use it, the verb must be in plain form (not only neutral), so た form works.

Your translation 'the fact that I heard something so horrible doesn't exist' is correct, but to be less literal, I think 'I have never heard something so horrible' is better.

In general, the pattern [...] Verb た こと が ない means "(I) have never '[...] verb'", "(I) have never done '[...] verb'.

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  • So does こと stand as a nominalizer in my example? If not, then it is distinct from what it described here: wasabi-jpn.com/japanese-grammar/nominalizers-koto-and-no
    – starckman
    Feb 15 '21 at 15:17
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    Yes, it's a nominalizer! It changes "I heard something so horrible" into "having heard something so horrible" (a noun).
    – mamster
    Feb 15 '21 at 19:09
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    @starckman I think it's just more that the page you linked is not exhaustive. It's a beginner's introduction to nominalizers.
    – Leebo
    Feb 15 '21 at 21:21

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