Beside the expression -어/아 보다, there is another way to tell others what you have or haven’t experienced. That Korean grammar pattern is -(으)ㄴ 적이 있다/없다. This pattern is a bit more directly telling what you have or haven’t experienced, though, than the previous pattern. Let’s take a look.
Experience -(으)ㄴ 적이 있다/없다
Whereas -어/아 보다 inferred first time experiences, the expression -(으)ㄴ 적이 있다/없다 does not. It is merely a way to say you have or haven’t had any experience with the thing you are talking about. If you were to translate the pattern to English, the best translation would be “have done/had”. Let’s look at an example:
Example: 한국 드라마를 본 적이 있어요.
Translation: I have seen a Korean drama.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon for this pattern to be combined with the pattern -어/아 보다. This means you have experienced it or tried it. The combination puts more emphasis on the experience or lack thereof.
Example: 한국 음식을 먹어 본 적이 없어요.
Translation: I have never tried Korean food.
This pattern is not used to describe things that are often repeated or everyday occurrences. They are experiences that are uncommon for you. If you eat Korean food every week, you don’t say 한국 음식을 먹어 본 적이 없어요, but simply 한국 음식을 먹어요.
How To Use
The expression -(으)ㄴ 적이 있다/없다 isn’t that hard to use. You just need to remember the rules you’ve learned for using verbs as a noun modifier. More specifically, you need to remember the past tense. Let’s review:
- If the verb stem ends in a vowel, you use -ㄴ 적이 있다/없다.
- If the verb ends in a batchim (consonant), you use -은 적이 있다/없다.
After you have done all that, you just need to pick between 있다 (you had the experience) and 없다 (you lack the experience) and conjugate it. Pretty easy, all in all.