Japanese Grammar

Quotation と, という, and ように

Quotation: ように

Last time, you learned how to use く and る as helping verbs like 学校がっこうまではしっていきます (I will run and go to school). Now, you can express motion of subjects, motion of objects, and a time flow. Then, if you would like to say “I heard that you would run and go to school,” what should you say? In this lesson, you will tackle how to express quotation.

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Explanation for How to Express Quotation in Japanese

Table of Contents
と: Generic Quotation
と: Defining
という with Relative Clauses
ように: Quotation for Requests and Commands
ように: Quotation for Generic Things

First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “quotation.” This literally means to quote what someone said, e.g. he said “I can speak Japanese,” or he said that he can speak Japanese. We will try to think the usage more broadly here. We can say that the structure of the sentence: “He thinks he can speak Japanese” is the same. In fact, both of them can be expressed by using the same sentence pattern in Japanese. Therefore, we will learn them together. Note: Japanese have the quotation marker 「 」 which is equivalent to the English “ ”, but there is no particular situation where you have to use it.

と: Generic Quotation

なかさんは 明日あしたアメリカに った / いました
Topic / Subject Noun Clause: Quotation Verb
Tanaka-san said “[I] would move to the US tomorrow.”

This is a basic sentence pattern. You can express quotation by placing と after noun clauses. Please pay attention to omission, which more often happens than other expressions. When you use verbs related to speech such as “う: to say” and “はなす: to talk,” noun clauses can end with any form, e.g. the polite from and the sentence ending particles.

なかさんがいた / きました)。
[I] heard Tanaka-san would move.
あぶない」すずさんが(さけんだ / さけびました)。
Suzuki-san shouted, “Watch out.”
さんがありません説明せつめい(した / しました)。
[I] explained, “there is no budget.”
明日あしたあめだよ井上いのうえさんは(はなした / はなしました)。
Inoue-san talked, “it will rain tomorrow.”

When you use verbs related to thoughts such as “おもう: to think,” you can only use the plain form or expressions for feelings like a volitional form in quotation (*you will learn such expressions in other lessons). There is another important rule. In conversation, subjects should be yourself when you use the verbs related to thoughts except for novels and manga. Thus, omission can be more complicated as the forth example below shows.

さんりないおもう / おもいます)。
[I] think the budget is not enough.
明日あしたあめおもう / おもいます)。
[I] think as for tomorrow it will rain.
わたしちがっていないおもって(いる / います)。
[I] am thinking I am not wrong.
なかさんは学校がっこうやすおもう / おもいます)。
[I] think Tanaka-san will be absent from school.

When you use perception verbs like “く to hear” and “る to see” with と, it can indicate your understanding.

しんがもうすぐて(いる / います)。
[I] am estimating an earthquake will come soon.
ほんはとてもすずしいいて(いる / います)。
[I] am understanding Japan is very cool.

と: Defining

Sorryは ほん 「すみません」 う / います)よ
Topic / Subject Range Defining Verb
We say “Sorry” as “すみません” in Japanese.

This is not directly involved with quotation, but you can express definition by using the same sentence pattern. In this contexts, you mainly use the three verbs: “う to say,” “む to read,” and “ぶ to call.” The combination with wh-questions is very important and useful for beginners.

記録は「きろく」む / みます)よ。
[We] read 記録 as “きろく.”
づか治虫おさむはマンガのかみばれて(いる / います)。
Osamu Tezuka is called God of Manga.
このものなんう(の / んですか)?
Lit. As for this food What do [you] say [it] as?

Advanced Topic: という with Relative Clauses

[あなたは] ナルトというマンガを って(いる / いますか)?
[Topic / Subject] Noun Clause: Direct Object Verb
Do you know manga known as Naruto?

The sentence pattern: “NounというNoun” works to define the later generic noun by using the former specific noun. The origin of the word: という apparently comes from と言う and can be used to define anything. Be careful; however, the いう doesn’t indicate “to say.” That’s rather close to something like “to be known as,” “to be referred as,” and “to mean.”

富士ふじさんというやまに(のぼった / のぼりました)。
[I] climbed a mountain known as “Mt. Fuji.”
さしみというりょうを(べた / べました)。
[I] ate a meal known as “Sashimi.”
「ありがとう」はThank you という意味いみ(だ / です)よ。
ありがとう means “thank you.”
What does ごめんなさい mean?

という can be used with normal relative clauses, too. You can directly connect という with nouns. Considering the characteristic, it is more natural to use という when modified nouns are related to speech and thoughts. This is also applicable for nominalizers: の and こと. When they are used with verbs related to speech, especially the length of noun clauses is long, using という is more natural.

ボブがイギリスに帰る噂を(聞いた / 聞きました)
=> Unnatural
ボブがイギリスにかえといううわさを(いた / きました)。
I heard a rumor that Bob would return to the UK.

Because “うわさ: rumor” is related to speech.

明日、親と一緒にイギリスへ引っ越すことを(伝えた / 伝えました)
=> Unnatural
明日あしたおや一緒いっしょにイギリスへということを(つたえた / つたえました)。
[I] told [I would] move to the UK with my family together tomorrow.

Because the length of the noun phrase is long.

くるまはしおとが(こえる / こえます)。
The sound that running cars make is heard.
車が走るという音が(聞こえる / 聞こえます)
=> Wrong!

When modified nouns are related perception such as “おと: sound,” “あじ: taste,” and “におい: smell,” you cannot use という.

ひとごと(だ / です)。
[It] is a job to write pictures about people.
ひとというごと(だ / です)。
[It] is a job to write pictures about people.

Otherwise, there is no difference.

ように: Quotation for Requests and Commands

なかさんは [わたしに] 学校がっこうように った / いました
Topic / Subject [Target] Noun Clause: Quotation Verb
Tanaka-san told [me] to come to school.

This function is to quote commands and requests, which is not to give commands or make requests (*You will learn them later). When you directly connect the plain form with ように, it will often sound commands. If you want to quote requests or need to be polite, you should utilize くれる or もらえる, which is the potential form of もらう. That way, you can certainly be polite and indicate requests. Note: you cannot use the ta-form in the quotation part in this context.

毎日まいにちべんきょうするようにわれ(た / ました)。
[I] was told to study everyday.
ほんようにたのまれ(た / ました)。
[I] was requested to buy the book.
おとうとまんするようにはなす / はなします)。
[I] will talk to [my] younger brother to be patient.
先生せんせいにパーティーへてもらえるようにう / います)。
[I] will tell [my] teacher to come to the party.

と is sometimes placed after ように, but the nuance won’t change.

毎日まいにちべんきょうするようにわれ(た / ました)。
ほんうようにたのまれ(た / ました)。
おとうとまんするようにはなす / はなします)。
先生せんせいにパーティーへてもらえるようにう / います)。

ように: Quotation for Generic Things

[私わたしは] ほんなつすずしいように おもう / おもいます
[Topic / Subject] Noun Clause: Quotation Verb
[I] think Japan’s summer is cool.

ように has the second function, which is to quote generic things like と. The difference is that ように implies your quotation is not exactly the same as the original one or you are not pretty sure about your quotation. In this context, you can use the ta-form in the quotation part. Regarding the conjugation, you need to use な with na-adjectives and の with nouns. Otherwise you can directly connect.

[I] think business cards are important.
=> Less sure than the above.
[I] think ramen is a Chinese cuisine.
=> Less sure than the above.

Supplementary Learning: Colloquial Expression

あぶない」ってすずさんが(さけんだ / さけびました)。
わたしちがっていないっておもって(いる / います)。
記録は「きろく」ってむ / みます)よ。
さしみっていうりょうを(べた / べました)。
ボブがイギリスにかえっていううわさを(いた / きました)。
ほんうようにってたのまれ(た / ました)。

There is a colloquial expression. You can replace って with という. Be careful; this sounds very casual.


  1. You can express quotation by placing と after noun clauses.
  2. When verbs are related to speech, noun clauses can end with any form.
  3. When verbs are related to thoughts, noun clauses need to end with the plain form or expressions for feelings like the volitional form.
  4. と can be used to define something.
  5. “NounというNoun” defines the later generic noun by using the former specific noun.
  6. ように quotes requests and commands.

You have now learned how to quote and define something. We believe the と is simple enough to memorize its functions. This is the most important idea to take away here. What you have to master next is the sentence pattern: “NounというNoun.” They are frequently used in everyday life. Regarding the rest of them, it is enough if you grasp only the general concepts. Next, you will learn how to express comparison.

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