I have this sentence in front of me


which is translated as:

she said she couldn't stand hearing a male voice near her ear.

If I am right, here, って is actually translated as "said" which makes me realise, I am only familiar with the present form of quoting particles と and って. Taking into the account that 耐えられない is the present form of the verb, and the translation is about something which happened in the past, I feel that I am actually ignorant about the grammar of the quoting particle.

How do we know if the quoting is about something which is happening now (says) or something which happened in the past (said), do we use the same quoting particle for past and present? If so, how do we recognise the difference?

  • 1
    Related? japanese.stackexchange.com/a/43241/9831 明日は雨だって。 [They say / I heard] it will rain tomorrow.
    – chocolate
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 0:33
  • When you quote somebody, you are always using the past tense "said" because your reporting of the words comes after the words were said. Or am I missing something? Even if the something is happening now, the saying of that is past, i.e. "He said that there is a problem". You can use "He says that there is a problem" but it's not clear to me what the difference between these two is, since both are reported speech. Maybe I am misunderstanding your question.
    – kandyman
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 12:45
  • @kandyman in a sense you are right and I also thought about it but at the time before I know that the tense is actually defined by the proceeding verb after the particle (if that is not omitted), my logic was that at least in English, we decide between "said" or "say", but about って, there was no tense to chose! Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


The quoting particle と (or って) is tenseless, just as the quotation marks " for direct speech (she said "I want to sing"), or that for indirect speech (she said that she wanted to sing) are tenseless.

The tense is reflected in the verb that is used with the quoting particle, e.g.

  • ~といいました
  • ~といった
  • ~といっています

In your example sentence, the correct tense for translation into English has to be determined from the context of the original sentence, as there is no verb to read off the tense.

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