What's the difference between ~たことがありますか and ~ましたか?

In class, we were learning about past tenses but I am not sure what the difference is between these two expressions:




I think this comes out as “Did you eat a sandwich?” vs “Have you ever eaten a sandwich?”



You can (in your mind) replace こと with ‘experience’.

“Do you have the experience of having done a thing (ever in your life)?”

The fact that you experienced the thing will keep existing forever, so the main verb is in present tense (あります). But the thing you experienced happened in the past, so the subclause is in past tense.

In the first sentence you are simply asking whether someone has eaten a sandwich (that day, at lunch, the one that you prepared for yourself but left in the fridge thinking you’ll have it on your hiking trip and now it’s gone). Not whether hey ever had one in their life.


To simplify a bit, こと turns verbs into nouns. So “サンドウィッチは食べたこと” means “have eaten a sandwich.” Now, you can plug that into spaces where nouns would usually be. For example I could say “サンドイッチは食べたことんを考えましたか” and with that core noun phrase it means “ have you thought about eating a sandwich?
Putting it simply again, こと makes the act of doing something, like eating a sandwich, something you can talk about or describe.

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