How to Say "Someone said~" in Japanese – JLPT N4 Grammar: と言っていました

In any language, knowing how to pass on information is crucial.  Thankfully in Japanese, it’s fairly simple to relay other people’s messages or words to another person.  The basic grammar point by which someone can relay messages in Japanese is: と言っていました (to itte imashita) meaning “Someone said that~”
This is a JLPT N4 grammar point, which means in addition to being a useful language tool in your Japanese toolbox – it is also a useful point to know for taking the JLPT.
Make sure to watch the Youtube video above before reading this companion blog article.

How to Use JLPT N4 Grammar: と言っていました

と言っていました means “said that~”.  As stated in the above paragraphs, it’s used to say “Someone said,  blah blah blah,” in Japanese.  It’s easy to use in everyday conversation.
The form is:
Short form verb / い Adj + と言っていた/と言っていました
Noun / な Adj + だ + と言っていた/と言っていました
This grammar point can be used in either casual speech or polite speech.  The above grammar rules apply to the end of whatever message or sentence you are relaying that someone else said.
Let’s look at some examples.

Examples Using “Someone Said That…” in Japanese

Example 1

Ashita ne, suzuki san kaigi ga aru to itte imashita.
About tomorrow, Suzuki-san said that she has a meeting.
In this example from the video above, Nakamura-sensei is relaying to Yamada-san what Suzuki-san told her.  She easily uses と言っていました to simply repeat what Suzuki-san said.
Here, notice the use of the short form verb ある.  Even though Suzuki-san said 会議があります – which is polite – when relaying the message to Yamada-san, Nakamura-sensei only used the short form.
However, this is not impolite at all.  It is a natural and approriate use of this grammar point, and the ます form ending of the sentence makes it polite: 会議があると言っていました。

Example 2

Suzuki-san, o sushi wa suki janai to itte imashita.
Suzuki-san said she doesn’t like sushi.
Now we have gone up a step.  This example uses a negative な adjective.  For the positive form, the sentence would be お寿司は好きだと言っていました。
However for negative form, there is no だ, so it is merely short form negative + と言っていました
For casual usage, just shorten the ending. お寿司は好きじゃないと言っていた
That’s all for today!  Try this out in a Japanese conversation sometime soon~
Or try it out in one of our online Japanese lessons!  😀

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