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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 '14 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 '14 at 8:32

2 Answers 2

You question is more about the difference between ~と言った and ~と言っていた than the difference between します and しています. いう is a special word because all the four forms 言う, 言った, 言っている and 言っていた are used differently.

It seems to me that you will normally use ~と言っている or ~と言っていた to report the one's speech. Perhaps it is helpful to think them as a stative verb meaning “to think”. The difference is just that ~と言っている suggests the one who said that still thinks so, whereas ~と言っていた is neutral.

What you will find in front of と言っている are often things like requests, commands, feelings, decisions, conclusions, and judgement. Many of them, like たい, ほしい, なさい, しよう, etc., are normally restricted to first or second person subjects. But in Japanese, you can easily extend them to third person subjects by attaching と言っている to the end. In this sense, I think と言っている may not refer to any specific action, but is more related to how one thinks or what one suggests.

On the other hand, と言った usually refers to a specific action in the past. It is perfectly suitable when you are telling a story. I do not know why Japanese generally prefer と言っている over と言った for reporting other people's words. Perhaps it is just because people say something all the time that the focus is not on if someone has said something or done something, but on what he says.

と言う generally means “people say” or “I heard”. Using と言う instead of と言った is usually seen in novels.

I think verbs like ~と思っている, ~と言っている, ~と考えている all more or less work in this way.

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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 '14 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 '14 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 '14 at 14:11
Of course you can say "Newtonは...と言っている。But my opinion is ...". – noel_lapin Mar 6 '14 at 14:17
If you will forgive the double negative, I don't think we are in disagreement. – Tim Mar 6 '14 at 20:16

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