This question is inspired by this question. In English I can quote something in two ways:

She said "Seeing you smile is better".
She said that seeing me smile is/was better.

One uses quotes, and the other uses 'that'. So what happens in Japanese?

This one I think I am happy with:


I think this one is ok. I see things like it a lot in the book I'm reading now:


What about this one with no quotes (more like the link and I've changed the pronoun):


Or do I need と on the end to connect it to the previous sentence (exactly like in the link)?

So, which of these variants are correct? Are there any more? Are some better in writing rather than spoken?

1 Answer 1


(A) 彼女は「笑っているあなたを見ている方がいい」と言った。
(B) 彼女は笑っている俺を見ている方がいいと言った。
(C) 彼女は笑っているあなたを見ている方がいいと言った。
(D) 彼女は「笑っている俺を見ている方がいい」と言った。[×]

(A) is a typical 直接話法 (direct speech) sentence, and (B) is a typical 間接話法 (indirect speech) sentence. These are common both in English and Japanese, so they should be easy.

(C) is the same as (A) except that it lacks the quotation marks. This is still perfectly valid and common in Japanese, because the quotation marks are optional even when direct speech is used. That is, (B) and (C) are apparently different, but have the same meaning! (as long as we know the context, of course)

This rule might be too confusing in English, but luckily Japanese has a lot of personal pronouns. We know 俺 almost always refers to a man and あなた is usually said by a woman. Knowing that, (B) and (C) are not really confusing.

However, (D) is funny. If there are brackets, it explicitly means direct speech is used (i.e., the content is her own words). (D) looks as if the woman said 俺.

Moving on...

(A2) 彼女は言った。「笑っているあなたを見ている方がいい」と。
(B2) 彼女は言った。笑っている俺を見ている方がいいと。
(C2) 彼女は言った。笑っているあなたを見ている方がいいと。

These are all valid and natural, too. The word order is changed for some rhetorical effect (known as 転置法/hyperbaton), but they're basically the same as (A)-(C).

Now, what happens if we even omit the quotative particle と at the end?

(A3) 彼女は言った。「笑っているあなたを見ている方がいい」。
(B3) 彼女は言った。笑っている俺を見ている方がいい。 ←your question
(C3) 彼女は言った。笑っているあなたを見ている方がいい。

If I'm not mistaken, these are somewhat closer to free indirect speech and free direct speech. I would say these are slightly harder to understand because there is no と, but are still completely valid as literary, rhetoric, and/or poetic expressions. We can understand what is the quoted part even without と. Depending on the surrounding sentences, these may be too difficult to understand, but that's another story.

(A3)-(C3) look far more dramatic than plain (A)-(C). Among the three, (C3) is probably the most common and relatively easiest to understand. (B3) is related to free indirect speech and probably is the most tricky, but it looks very dramatic to me at the same time.

  • Is it grammatical to use と at the end of a sentence when quoting? Like in A2 - C2. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:16
  • @strawberryjam Isn't the linked question the real example?
    – naruto
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:18
  • Well, yeah, but it doesn't quite say whether this is just a generally accepted ungrammatical pattern or a completely valid one. I'm quite intrigued as to how this type of pattern came to exist. It kind of looks like it was used a lot in poetry or something as a way to phrase nicely, which would make it the former type of pattern over the latter. But I'm just throwing guesses here. I'm not sure how to call this phenomenon but it's really common in English. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:24
  • 1
    It's a rhetorical technique called 倒置法 in Japanese. The part which comes last is the part which is emphasized most.
    – naruto
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:30

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