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Trying to use interrogative words in nested (indirect ?) questions has been troublesome for me.

First came things like:

先生が何を言ったか知らない

Which I guess means "I don´t know what the teacher said". So far, so good.

However, I have been looking into using と for quotations, or for reporting to a whole phrase.

For example:

彼はこれは何だと言ったか

Which I think means "What did he say this is ?"

But what if I just wanted to know if he said this is something or not, like: "Did he say this is something, or didn´t he say it ?"

Would it be something like this ? (below)

彼は「これは何か」と言ったかどうか?

Lastly, if I wanted to say "Do you remember what he said this is ?", would it be:

彼はこれは何だと言ったか覚えていますか?

If there is anything wrong with my guessed meanings, please let me know...

2 Answers 2

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彼はこれは何だと言ったか is not a complete sentence but a clause that's embedded in a sentence like 彼は(自分が)これは何だと言ったか覚えていなかった:"He didn't remember what he said it was".

"Did he say this is something, or didn´t he say it ?" is expressed as あの人、これ が(/を) 何(か)だとか言ってた? それとも言ってなかった?(or …言ってませんでしたか?) or so. Using 言っていた instead of 言った is another point. (This is difficult to explain, though)

彼は「これは何か」と言ったかどうか is not a complete sentence either, but a clause as in "He didn't remember if he said "what's this" or not".

彼はこれは何だと言ったか覚えていますか? more likely means "Does he remember what I/you/he said this is?" than "Do you remember what he said this is?". If you want to make it clear, the latter should be 彼 これ は(/が) 何だと言ったか覚えていますか.

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  • thanks for the corrections. Using Xとか。。。 was new to me, but I think I get the gist of it. Secondly, 言ってた over 言った isn´t just a question of formality ? Lastly, if my phrases are "incomplete sentences" (which for sure made sense), then how can I convey the meaning I wanted ("What did he say this is ?") ? Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 14:32
  • ? Are you there ? Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 19:19
  • @VitorArruda 1) 言ってた is 言っていた, not a simple past. 2) "What did he say this is?" is 彼はこれ(が/は/を)何だと言ってた? or ~言ってましたか?. Commented Nov 12, 2016 at 16:48
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What you guess is totally good but one:

Did he say this is something, or didn't he say it ?"

彼は「これは何か」と言ったかどうか?

This Japanese sentence may be received as "Did he ask what this is?"

I think it is hard to exactly express it, but my best answer is:

彼はこれを何かだと言ったか?

The point is だ after 何か. Here 何かだ is expected to be received as "being something", but not somewhat "being what".

Of course there is a better way to do almost the same, if you don't stick to say it literally. For example:

彼はこれについて何か言ってましたか。

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  • @Faily Feely, I understand the need for か in 何かだ. However, why これを何。。。 instead of これは何。。。? Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 14:29
  • Sorry, I unconsciously did that, avoiding two uses of は in a row. 彼はこれ何かだと言ったか? is still fine, but 彼はこれ何かだと言ったか? sounds a little bit better.   AをBと言う means something like "say that A is B", here A is これ and B is 何かだ. So, を and は are almost interchangeable here. Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 14:41

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