Direct & Indirect speech &って(=tte)

May 7, 2012 in Grammar


= Maggie tte furadansu odoreru no?

= Can you hula dance, Maggie?


= Dansu wa hetadatte kiita yo.

= I heard you are not a good dancer.


= Odorerutteba!

= I’m telling you! I can dance!

Hi everyone! This lesson has two parts.

First part is how to make a direct/indirect speech. Actually I got a request  from ハリちゃん a long time ago, and she asked me how to quote speech when writing. Sorry, Hari-chan, that it took me a long time to make this lesson. I didn’t forget about your request.   :)

The second part is about って(=tte) particle.

That’s it? Yes, small and !That’s it.  But again, be ready! It is going to be another long lesson. :)

Here we go!


OK, first thing is first. Let’s focus on the basic grammar!

:mm: Direct speech in written dialogue:


As I have mentioned  in という、ということ・というもの(= to iu, toiu koto, toiu mono) lesson

when we quote someone’s speech in novels, stories, compositions of children, we write the speech in


「 」(= 鍵括弧 = kagi kakko)


(Note : We also use 「」 for the title of the book, thesis, songs and etc.)

And quote the speech with this particle (=to) and follow with a verb.

!star! Basic patterns :

Subjectquote 言いました。言った

= Subject wa ” quote ” to iimashita. / itta.

= Subject  said ”  quote ”

quote Subjectは言いました言った。

= “quote” to subject wa iimashita/itta.

= ” quote” subject said.

Subject は言った言いましたquote」(

= Subject wa itta / iimashita ” quote” (to)

= Subject said “quote”

( !beginners! Note  : 言いました(=iimashita) is a polite form of 言った(=itta) and they are both past tense)

The verb in the main phrase varies but they are usually past tense. (Ex. said, heard, asked, got mad, thought, reacted, scolded, etc.)

Ex. マギーは「これ、おいしい!」言いました。

= Maggie wa “Kore oishii!” to iimashita.

= Maggie said  “This is delicious”

Ex. その男の子はお母さんに「遊びに行ってもいい?」聞きました。

= Sono otokonoko wa okaasan ni ” Asobini itte mo ii?” to kikimashita.

= The boy asked his mother “Can I go play?”


Ex. おじいさんは「もう一人でここへ来てはいけないよ」太郎を叱りました。

= Ojiisan wa “Mou hitori de koko e kite wa ikenaiyo” to Tarou wo shikarimashita.

= The grandpa scolded Taro, “Don’t come here by yourself again!”

Ex. 「最近、忙しいの?」と彼女は文句を言った。

= “Saikin, isogashii no?” to kanojo wa monku wo itta.

“Have you been busy lately?” she complained.

:n: Indirect speech :

In regular writing, you use indirect speech without writing「」


Ex.  今日は暑くなる言っていました。

= Kyou wa atsuku naru to itte imashita.

= I heard on TV that it will be hot today. (The literal translation is “Someone (the weather report)  said it would be hot today.”)

Ex. 先生が明日はクラスはないと言っていました。

= Sensei ga ashita wa kurasu wa nai to itte imashita.

= The teacher said there was no class tomorrow.

As you know, when you use indirect speech in English, you have to change the tense of the verb  in a quote into past tense.

(Direct speech)

A said “B is C”

(Indirect speech)

A said B was C.

(Direct speech)

A said “I will do ~”

(Indirect speech)

A said she/he would do ~

But in Japanese, we keep the original tense in the quote .

(direct speech)

Ex. 彼女は「いいお天気だね。」と言いました。

= Kanojo wa “Ii otenki dane” to iimashita.

= She said, “The weather is nice!”.

:u: (indirect speech)

Ex. 彼女はいいお天気だねと言いました。

= Kanojo wa ii otenki dane to iimashita.

= She said the weather was nice.


Note : Also you know there are two writing styles in Japanese, right?

:rrrr: 1) polite form ですます(=desu & masu) (Past tense でした&ました(=deshita/mashita))


2) dictionary formだ&ある(=da & aru) (Past tense だった&あった(=dattat/atta)



When you write in Japanese, it is important not to mix these  and stick to one style.

Ex. Maggie lives in a village. She went to a town for shopping. It was very far.

:qq: です&ます(desu&Masu) form


= Maggie wa mura ni sunde imasu. Kyou wa machi made kaimono ni ikimashita. Totemo tookatta desu.

:ee: だ&ある(da & aru) form


= Maggie wa mura ni sunde iru. Kyou wa machi made kaimono ni itta. Totemo tookatta.

It is said you shouldn’t mix these forms.

!BUBU! マギーは村に住んでいます。今日は町まで買い物に行った。とても遠かったです

= Maggie wa mura ni sunde imasu. Kyou wa machi made kaimono ni itta. Totemo tookatta desu.

But in reported speech, you can use the different style of stem in the quote from the main verb.


(Direct speech)

Ex.1-a) 彼は「お腹がすいています」と言いました

= Kare wa “Onaka ga suite imasu” to iimashita.

= He said “I am hungry.”


    (Indirect speech) The different ending styles.

Ex. 1-b) 彼はお腹がすいている言いました

= Kare wa onakaga suite iru to iimashita.

= He said he was hungry.

(Direct speech)

Ex. 2-a) マギーは「今、すごく忙しいです。」と言った

= Maggie wa “ima sugoku isogashii desu” to itta.

= Maggie said she was very busy now.

(Indirect speech) The different ending styles.

Ex.2-b) マギーは今すごく忙し言った

= Maggie wa ima sugoku isogashii to itte itta.


Now we can move on to って(=tte)

In casual reported speech, we use って(=tte) instead of .  (I put the underline below the quoted part.)

Ex. マギーが手伝ってほしい言っています。

= Maggie ga tetsudatte hoshii to itte imasu.

= Maggie is saying she needs your help.


(more casual)



= Maggie ga tetsudatte hoshii tte itteruyo.

= Maggie is saying she needs your help.

Ex. 彼と別れたって聞いたけど本当?

= Kare to wakaretatte kiitakedo hontou?

= I heard you broke up with him. Is it true?

Ex. いつもマギー先生は元気だなって思います。

= Itsumo Maggie sensei wa genki danatte omoimasu.

= I think you are always energetic (or cheerful), Maggie Sensei.

Ex. よく西野カナに似てるって言われるでしょ。

= Yoku Nishino Kana ni niterutte iwareru desho.

= I bet you are often told that you look like Kana Nishino.

Ex. マギー先生に会いたいなあってずっと思っていました。

= Maggie Sensei ni aitainaatte zutto omotte imashita.

= I’d always wanted to see Maggie Sensei.

In my above mentioned lesson I taught you when/how to use という(=toiu) fully so I won’t go over that

very much  in this lesson, but the casual way to say という(=toiu) is

:rrrr: っていう(=tte iu)


the casual way to say ということ(=toiukoto) is

:rrrr: っていうこと(=tte iu koto) or simply (=tte)

Ex. マギーいう先生

= Maggie toiu sensei

= A teacher called Maggie

マギーっていう先生 →マギーって先生

= Maggie tte iu sensei→Maggie tte sensei

Ex. 「マギー先生」というサイトを知っていますか?

= “Maggie Sensei” toiu saito wo shitte imasuka?

↓(more casual)

Ex. 「マギー先生」っていうサイトを知ってる?

= Maggie sensei tte iu saito wo shitteru?

= Do you know the site called Maggie Sensei?

↓(more casual)


= “Maggie Sensei” tte saito wo shitteru?

Ex. 人を好きになるということはどういうこと?

= Hito wo suki ni naru toiu koto wa douiu koto?

= How do you feel when you are in love with someone?

(more casual)


= Hito wo suki ninaru tte koto wa douiu koto?

(more casual)


= Hito wo suki ninaru tte douiu koto?


As we have seen, we need the verbs when we quote something, such as


(speech) (=~ to) / って(=tte) +

*言う(=iu) = to say (past tense)言った(=itte imashita) / 言いました(=itte ita)

*思う(=omou) t0 think (past tense)思った(=omotta) / 思いました(=omoimashita)

*聞く(=kiku)to hear(past tense) 聞いた(=kiita) / 聞きました(=kikimashita) = heard



We often finish the sentence  with って(=~tte)  dropping all these main verbs when you pass along the information or message

Ex. マギーが手伝ってほしいって

= Maggie ga tetsudatte hoshii tte.

= Maggie is saying (or said) she needed your help.


= Kyou shukudai nain datte.

= I heard (they said) there is no homework today.

Ex. 明日から暑くなるんだって

= Ashita kara atsuku narundatte.

= I heard/They said it is going to be hot from tomorrow.

Note : If you want to make it slightly more polite use です(=desu) form instead of (=da).

Ex. 宿題手伝ってほしいんですって

= Shukudai tetsudatte hoshiin desu tte.

Ex. 今日、宿題ないんですって

= Kyou shukudai nain desu tte.

Ex. 明日から暑くなるんですって

= Asu kara atsuku narun desu tte.

Note : We tend to use (=n) instead of  (=no) in casual conversation.

Ex. マギーがよろしくって

= Maggie ga yoroshikutte !

= Maggie said hello to you!

Ex. お母さんがねえ、早く起きなさいって

= Okaasana ga nee, hayaku okinasaitte!

= Mom said get up already!

:rrrr: Note 1) We finish the sentence with って but we never finish the sentence with(=to) in above examples.

Note 2) You might have heard/seen some people add (=sa) after って(=tte) in a very casual reported speech.

Ex. マギーは今日、来ないんだって

= Maggie wa kyou konain dattesa.

= I heard Maggie was not coming  today.

Ex. 明日はいいお天気だって

= Ashita wa ii otenki dattesa.

= I heard the weather would be nice tomorrow.

Note 3) If you are talking to a superior person, you shouldn’t finish a sentence with  って(=tte) or って(=ttesa).

Instead, you could say,

とのことです(=tono koto desu)

Ex. マギーは今日、来ないとのことです。

= Maggie wa kyou konai tono koto desu.

= I heard Maggie was not coming today.

Ex. 明日はいいお天気だとのことです。

= Ashita wa ii otenki datono koto desu.

= I heard the weather would be nice tomorrow.

:s: Also  we finish the sentence with って in casual conversation when repeat or stress our own quote showing our frustration.


= Dakara ima isogashiindatte( itterudesho!) !

= I am telling you, I am busy now! / I said I’m busy.

Ex.やめてって (→male speech やめろって)

= Yametette! / Yamerotte !

= I said, cut it out! / Stop it!

Ex. 本当だって

= Hontou datte! (shinjite kureyo!)

= I said it’s true! (Believe me!)


= Sonna koto dekinaitte(nankai ittara iinda)!

= I say I can’t do such a thing! (How many times should I tell you!)

:u: It is also very  common to use this form with,

!star! ってば(=tteba)

You add (=ba) to show your frustration.


てば (=tteba / ~ だってば(= datteba)  = I said, I am telling you! (This is end of conversation!)

Ex. 忙しいってば

= Isogashii tteba

= I told you, I am busy!

Ex. やめてってば /  やめろてば!(male speech wrought

= Yametetteba! / Yamerotteba!

= I said, cut it out!/stop it! !

Ex. 本当だてば

= Hontou datteba!

= I’m telling you! It’s true!


= Sonna koto dekinaitteba!

= I am telling you I can’t do such a thing!

Sometimes you add it when you talk to someone to get their attention — especially common among girls or children. (Usually you say this when you keep talking to the person but they don’t pay attention to you.)


= Nee, Maggie tteba!

= Hey, Maggie. (I’m talking to you.)


There are more ways to use  って(=tte)


=Nagai ressun ni narutte itta desho!

= I told you that it was going to be a long lesson!

Use って(=tte) is used to define the topics instead of a subject marker, (=wa) or というものは(=toiu mono wa).

(Note : というものは(=toiumono wa) is used  when you give a general idea.)

It is said that it emphasizes the subject which it follows but sometimes it soften the sentence.

Ex. マギーって(→)かわいいね。

= Maggie tte (→wa) kawaiine.

= You are so cute, Maggie!


= Shigoto tte taihen dane.

= Work is hard, isn’t it?


= Sore tte (→wa) doko de katta no?

= Where did you buy that?

Ex. 今日って(→)日曜日?

= Kyou tte (→wa) nichiyoubi?

= Is it Sunday today?


= Watashi tte(→wa) yowai ningen nano kanaa.

= I wonder if I am a weak person.

Ex. って(→)どう行ったらいいの?

= Eki tte(→wa) dou ittara iino?

= How can I get to the station?


= Kore tte (→wa)nani?

= What is this?

Ex. Twitterって(→(というもの)便利だね

= Twitter tte (→(toiumono)wa) benri dane.

= Don’t you think Twitter is handy?

Ex. AとBの違いって(→)なんですか?

= A to B no chigai tte (→wa) nann desuka?

= What is the difference between A and B?

Ex. wwwって(→())どういう意味?

= www tte (→wa) douiu imi?

= What does “www” mean?

Ex. 恋愛って(→(というもの)は)難しいね。

= Ren’ai tte(→(toiumono) wa) muzukashii!

= Loving someone (Having a relaionship)  is difficult  isn’t it?

Ex. 早起きするって(→(ということ)いいことだよね。

= Hayaoki suru tte (→(toiukoto) wa) iikoto dayone.

= Getting up early in the morning is nice isn’t it?

Ex. って((という人間)はどうしていつもこうなんだろう…

= Watashi tte (→(toiu ningen ) wa) doushite itsumo kounan darou…

= Why do I always ended up being like this….


Replace (=to) with って(=tte) in

*ということで (= toi ukoto de ) so, therefore

:rrrr: っていうことで(=tte iu kotode)

*というわけで(=toiu wake de) so, therefore

:rrrr: っていうわけで(=tte iu wakede)


!star! Slang : Fun way to use って (=tte)

というか(=to iu ka) →っていうか(=tte iuka)

:rrrr: (more casual) って(=tteka)

:rrrr: (more casual)つうか= tsuuka / つーか (=tsuuka) (Usually for men but some girls use it,too.)

This is a colloquial expression and in a way, it seems to be overused by young people nowadays.


というか(=to iu ka) and っていうか(=tte iuka) is used when you deny or rephrase what someone or has just said — even that person is yourself.

:rrrr: Note: Casual variation for 言う(=iu) :  Sometimes people say ゆう(=yu) or ゆー(=yuu)

:rrrr: or rather, but, in fact, but actually, I mean, besides,

Ex. 彼は怒っていたというかむしろ戸惑っていた様にみえた。

=Kare wa okotte ita toiu ka mushiro tomadotte ita you ni mieta.

= He looked more perplexed than angry.

:u: (more casual)


= Kare wa okotte itatte iuka mushiro tomadotte iru you ni mieta.

Or you talk back to someone or contradict what someone has just said.

But in colloquial Japanese, people start the sentence with っていうか(=tte iuka)  when they just want to make their point or express their opinion reacting what they just heared or saw.

:rrrr: with all due respect, but, I mean, you know,putting that aside


= Tteiuka nanka Maggie anmari ikitaku nasasoujanai?

= But you don’t seem to be so enthusiastic about going, are you, Maggie?

Ex.って(or つうか)さあ、なんで私がそんなことやらなきゃいけないの?

= Tteka (or Tsuuka) saa nande watashi ga sonnnakoto  yaranakya ikenaino?

=With all due respect, why should I do that?

Ex. つうか、お前、何様のつもりだよ!(rough)

= Tuuka omae nanisama no tsumori dayo!

= I mean who do you think you are?

Ex. ってかその髪型なんだよ! (rough)

= Tteka sono kamigata nandayo!

= Oh, what happened to your hair? (Implying it looks bad)

Also when you summarize something

ということは(= toiu kotowa)

:rrrr: (more casual) っていうことは(=tte iu koto wa)

:rrrr: (more colloquial) つうことは(=tsuukoto wa)


A )「彼、もう1ヶ月も家に帰ってこないんだって。」

= Kare mou ikkagetsu mo ie ni kaette konain datte.

= I heard he hasn’t been home for over a month now.

B) っていう(or つう)ことは家出したってこと?」

= Tteiu (or tsuu)  koto wa iede shitatte koto?

= That means he ran a way from home?

マギー先生より= Maggie sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Dare mo watashi ga dansu wo odorerutte shinjite inai mitai ne.

= Nobody seems to believe that I can dance.


= Dansu wa daisuki datte nankai mo itterudesho!

= I have told you many times that I love dancing, haven’t I?