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How-to use Quotations (Direct and Indirect Quotations) (pt. 2 of 2)

How-to use Quotations (Difference between Direct and Indirect Quotations) (pt. 2 of 2)

The Japanese language, very much like the English language, has two kinds of quotations: direction quotations and indirect quotations.

Direct quotations are used when the speaker is quoting an utterance verbatim, or, exactly word-for-word. In order to indicate this in the English language, quotation marks are used; in the Japanese language, the corresponding punctuation marks are called 鉤括弧 (kagikakko), or for short, simply 鉤 (kagi).
「They look like such」

Indirect quotations, on the other hand, are typically paraphrased from the actual utterance being quoted and therefore need no indicative puncutation mark such as 鉤括弧 (kagikakko). In the English language, indirect quotation marks are typically indicated with the use of the word “that” before the quotation. For example, the sentence “He said that he’s not coming to practice today.” implements an indirect quotation, while the sentence “He said, ‘I’m not coming to practice today.’” implements a direct quotation.

In the Japanese language, the equivalent of the word “that” isn’t used to indicate an indirect quotation; however, the particle と is used as a quotation marker, for both direct quotations and indirect quotations. Therefore, to distinguish the two, the particle と denotes a quotation being used; and subsequently, the use of 鉤括弧 (kagikakko) indicates a direct quotation while the lack of 鉤括弧 (kagikakko) indicates an indirect quotation.

Due to various nuances, the distinction between using direct quotations and indirect quotations and other general guidelines for grammatical usage of quotations with the Japanese language can be slightly more complicated than with the English language.

*In adherence to polite and honorific expression, indirect quotations may require grammatical alterations.


Direct Quotation Version:

Kanojo wa「Ryoushin ga mukae ni kimasu」 to iimashita.
She said, My parents are coming to pick me up.

Indirect Quotation Version:

Kanojo wa goryoushin ga mukae ni irassharu to iimashita.
(She said that her parents are coming to pick her up.)

*If the subject of the direct quotation refers to the actual speaker of the quote (i.e. if it is a first-person pronoun such as 私), that first-person pronoun itself does not appear in the indirect version of the quotation. Due to it potentially causing confusion between the original speaker of the quote and the current speaker of the sentence using the quote, the word 自分 (jibun), which means “oneself,” can be used in substitution.


Direct Quotation Version:

Kare wa 「watashi wa downtown ni ikimashita」to iimashita.
(He said, I went downtown.)

Indirect Quotation Version:

Kare wa jibun wa downtown ni itta to iimashita.
(He said that he went downtown.)