638 - と ([indirect quotation])

JLPT N4: と (says; said [for indirect quotation])

In the previous lessons, we saw direct quotations like this:


本田先生は「今朝ホットケーキを食べました」言いました。
ほんだ せんせい は 「けさ ホットケーキ を たべました」 と いいました。
Honda-sensei said, “This morning I ate pancakes.”
Literally: “Honda-sensei + は + ‘this morning + pancakes (=hotcakes) + を + ate’ + と + said.”


Written as an indirect quotation, that would be:


本田先生は今朝ホットケーキを食べた言いました。
ほんだ せんせい は けさ ホットケーキ を たべた と いいました。
Honda-sensei said that he ate pancakes this morning.
Literally: “Honda-sensei + は + this morning + pancakes (=hotcakes) + を + ate + と + said.”


In other words, an "indirect quotation" is when we are not quoting the exact thing that a person says or said.

As such, it will typically not include quotation brackets.

Well, except for in rare cases:


日本語の「こんにちは」は、中国語で「ニーハオ」言います。
にほんご の 「こんにちは」 は、 ちゅうごくご で 「ニーハオ」 と いいます。
“Hello [Konnichiwa]” (in Japanese) is “nǐ hǎo” in Chinese.
Literally: “Japanese (language) + の + ‘hello’ + は, + Chinese (language) + で + ‘nǐ hǎo’ + と + say.”


As to why this can have quotation brackets and still be considered an indirect quotation, go back to the previous lesson.


One big difference between direct and indirect quotations is that with indirect quotations, the words directly before と should be in the plain form, but with direct quotations it can be in plain or formal forms (but still inside of quotation brackets).

So instead of saying this:


私は両親に、近々遊びに行きます手紙に書いた。
わたし は りょうしん に、 ちかぢか あそび に いきます と てがみ に かいた。
I wrote a letter to my parents telling them that I would go and visit them soon.
Literally: “I + は + (both) parents + に, + soon / before long + go to hang out (=playing + に + go) + と + letter + に + wrote.”


...you should say this:


私は両親に、近々遊びに行く手紙に書いた。
わたし は りょうしん に、 ちかぢか あそび に いく と てがみ に かいた。
I wrote a letter to my parents telling them that I would go and visit them soon.
Literally: “I + は + (both) parents + に, + soon / before long + go to hang out (=playing + に + go) + と + letter + に + wrote.”


↑ As you get used to using Japanese, that will feel pretty natural.


Remember our lesson on ~と思う?

This one: [NDL #615] - Basics: Saying "I think that..."

Well, ~と思う is often just an indirect quotation.

You can say it when quoting a thought, but not explicitly listing it word-for-word:


昨日はそんなに寒くなかった思う。
きのう は そんな に さむくなかった と おもう。
I don’t think it was all that cold yesterday.
Literally: “yesterday + は + (not) that much + wasn’t cold + と + think.”


この家に生まれて、幸せって思った。
この いえ に うまれて、 しあわせ だ な って おもった。
I felt lucky to be born into my [this] family.
Literally: “this + house + に + am born (and), + happy / fortunate + だ + な + って + thought.”


↑ Like mentioned in the last lesson, って is a common spoken form of .


Like in English, converting a direct quotation to an indirect quotation often involves making slight changes to words being quoted.

For example, this direct quotation has the word 行く (いく // to go) in it:


ムサシは「車で迎えに行くよ」言った。
ムサシ は 「くるま で むかえ に いく よ」 と いった。
Masashi said, “I’ll go to pick you up in my car.”
Literally: “Masahi + は + ‘car + で + go to meet / pick up (=greeting + に + go) + よ’ + と + said.”


...but this indirect quotation changes 行く (いく // to go) to 来る (くる // to come):


ムサシは、車で迎えに来る言った。
ムサシ は、 くるま で むかえ に くる と いった。
Masashi said that he’d come to pick me up in his car.
Literally: “Masashi + は, + car + で + come to meet / pick up (=greeting + に + come) + と + said.”


Hope I haven't confused you too much.

A good thing about "quote-marking と" is that it is very easy to practice. Every time you hear someone say something in Japanese, try to quote what they said in your head. Aside from helping you to practice this grammar, this is also good shadowing practice.

If you're a really serious student, you can try writing down (well, typing down) quotes of phrases that you heard or things you were told and showing them to a Japanese tutor.

Your writing will probably have a ton of mistakes, and getting feedback on those mistakes is great for really mastering proper Japanese phrasing.




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