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I was chatting with a Japanese friend about something I was planning to say to something and they said:

ほうほう、ということは今まで言えてなかったのね?

Why is imperative form used here?

I understand they are saying, "So that means that until know you hadn't said that".

Would the sentence be different if it was

ほうほう、ということは今まで言わなかったのね?

I asked them but it was difficult for me to understand why.

1 Answer 1

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This is not the imperative form, it's the potential form.

The imperative of 言う is just 言え. The potential form is 言える, which turns into the 言えて for the 〜て form.

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  • Would that mean a more direct translation of the sentence would be: "So that means you couldn't say it until now?"
    – Tyler H
    Nov 11, 2016 at 18:23
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    @TylerH More accurately, "you haven't been able to say". Nov 12, 2016 at 15:50
  • What is the meaning of ほうほう here?
    – jogloran
    Nov 13, 2016 at 7:48

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