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basically the difference between します and しています.

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While it is true that the difference between している and する is grammatically identically to the one between 言った and 言っていった (as present progressive vs. present indicative), I know there are important differences in the usage of 言っていた and 言った for writing. –  virmaior Mar 6 at 7:12
The title is clear but the text is not a complete sentence, just two seemingly unrelated fragments. Can you clarify your question? (There are probably several other related question that can help) –  Tim Mar 6 at 8:32

2 Answers 2

First of all, your question is about the difference between ~と言った and ~と言っていた. It's impossible to discuss the usage of する(/した?) and している/た here. There are already many books on it.

As for ~と言った and ~と言っている, it seems to me that ~と言っている is the normal one you will use to report one's speech; ~と言った is the one you use to report one's actions, which might be used when you tell a story. The difference between ~と言っている or ~と言っていた is whether or not you think original speaker still think so. ~と言っている implies he hasn't changed his mind. ~と言っていた is more neutral, which means he thought so when you saw him.

Verbs like ~と思っている, ~と言っている, ~と考えている all work in this way. When you mainly want to convey the content and provide the information source(e.g. who said it) in passing, you will use ~と~している or ~と~していた, depending on whether or not the information (source) is effective. When you really want to report something happens (e.g. he said some words) and provide some details (e.g. the content) in passing, ~と~した is the one to use.

By the way, と言っている does not always mean one said, it sometimes means one felt or one thought.

~と言う, ~と思う, ~と考える, etc. are totally different things. If you want to know the usage, you should ask another question.

I feel that, although 言う itself is perfectly an action verb, ~と言っている does have more to do with the actor's mental state, that is what opinion he holds. You just use this form to convey one's command, attitude, emotion, opinion, or other such things.

The relation between 言う and と言っている is similar to 持つ and 持っている, which can almost be viewed as two different verbs, and they are indeed rendered in different ways in some languages. (In fact, 持っている is sometimes written as 有っている in old writings.)

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彼は...と言いました states the simple fact as "He said ...", so it fits in academic report or formal letter. 彼は...と言っていました evokes some vividness as "He was saying ...". と言っていました is a more polite expression than と言っていた ( います is more polite than いる ). 言っていた is the past tense of 言っている.

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(Can't comment on why you got a down vote because I agree with what you said your answer as far as it goes, altho' possibly an academic paper would not have used the masu-kei (?)) but、academic papers aside, perhaps the difference b/w と言った&と言いっている is that the former states what was said (past tense) and the latter conveys that the speaker did not just say it but maintains that position? (ie if they are not expressly reaffirming their postition everyday it is clear that if asked they would do). と言ってい(まし)た puts that position in a past context (contd) –  Tim Mar 6 at 13:30
(contd) so if that person died after maintaining that position for a certain period of time, we might use the past imperfect tense (と言っていました) to refer to that position that existed for that past period. (???) –  Tim Mar 6 at 13:32
As for an academic paper, as you pointed out, de aru/da is favored than desu/masu. When comparing と言っている and と言っていた, と言っている belongs to now not the past. And と言っている connotes living feeling. For example "Newton は...と言っている", Newton said something in past time, and the speaker maintains/asserts the same thing now. –  noel_lapin Mar 6 at 14:11
Of course you can say "Newtonは...と言っている。But my opinion is ...". –  noel_lapin Mar 6 at 14:17
If you will forgive the double negative, I don't think we are in disagreement. –  Tim Mar 6 at 20:16

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