What is the grammar behind the use of the quote marker と in this sentence?


He was looking forward to when the rain would come, but...

Can I also write


He was looking forward to the rain coming, but...

and does it change the nuance?

  • 1
    Since I'm a native Japanese speaker, I'm not quite sure about the grammar. Both sound quite similar to me, but the second one is more objective while the first one somehow conveys speaker's excitement. Ex: 娘は朝早くから、いつおじいちゃんがやってくるかと思って家の外ばかりを眺めている。 – user51966 Jun 27 '15 at 0:47
  • @user51966 Thanks. Your example sentence also resolves my other concern about whether I can insert 思って (or a similar verb) after と. I'm assuming it would also be okay to remove 思って from your sentence and let it just be implied? – user3856370 Jun 27 '15 at 7:54
  • Yes, removing 思って is also fine. – user51966 Jun 27 '15 at 10:22

As you already noticed that the と is used as the quote marker in the first sentence. That means 雨がいつ降るか is written as the person's thought, which makes the sentence more subjective.

On the contrary, the second sentence sounds more objective.

Relatively with or without personal feelings might be the crucial difference between the two sentences.

By the way, just by the single sentence without context, the subject of it is more likely to be "I" rather than "HE".

  • The subject is definitely 'he'. Is there anything about the sentence other than than the lack of a stated topic that makes you think otherwise? – user3856370 Jun 27 '15 at 8:01
  • Just asked one of my Japanese friend sit near by me about the two sentences, and he says that the subject is obviously "I". Grammatically, if the subject is missing and nothing else to indicate the subject, the default subject should be "I". – user2559538 Jul 7 '15 at 11:32
  • Here's the previous sentence: 傘を手にした殿様は大喜びで、傘がいつ開くかと城の軒先に飾りました。I'm assuming that since the topic is 殿様 and hasn't been changed in the sentence under discussion then 'He' is more appropriate. If I'm wrong then I'd be very interested to understand why. Thanks. – user3856370 Jul 9 '15 at 19:26
  • From the previous sentence, surely we can find out the subject to be "HE". That why I particularly said "just by the single sentence without context" in the answer. Japanese language is a language that highly based on the context(previous sentences or next sentences, or even the situation). It may be more helpful to write down the context with your next question : ) – user2559538 Jul 13 '15 at 9:17
  • We have an accord :) Anyway, thanks for your input. – user3856370 Jul 13 '15 at 16:49

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