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

First came things like:


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:


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)


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


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


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.

  • 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 ?") ? Nov 3 '16 at 14:32
  • ? Are you there ? Nov 8 '16 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?. Nov 12 '16 at 16:48

What you guess is totally good but one:

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


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:


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:


  • @Faily Feely, I understand the need for か in 何かだ. However, why これを何。。。 instead of これは何。。。? Nov 3 '16 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. Nov 3 '16 at 14:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.