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A quotative is a grammatical device to mark quoted speech in some languages, and as such it preserves the grammatical person and tense of the original utterance rather than adjusting it as would be the case with reported speech. It can be equated with "spoken quotation marks". In the English sentence

John said, "Wow,"

there is no word indicating that we are dealing with quoted speech. This is only indicated typographically. In Sinhala on the other hand, the equivalent sentence

John Wow kiyalaa kivvaa

has an overt indication of quoted speech after the quoted string Wow, the quotative kiyalaa.


In Japanese, the quotative と [to] is used to indicate direct speech in this sentence:

石田さん 「トマトが好きじゃない」 言いました。
Ishida-san wa "tomato ga suki janai" to iimashita.
Mr. Ishida top. "tomato-nom. like-neg." quot. say-past-polite
"Mr. Ishida said that he didn't like tomatoes" lit. "that 'I don't like tomatoes'"

The following example shows the preservation of both grammatical person and the tense in a quoted utterance using the quotative particle:

彼女 「あなたが好きだ」 言った。[1]
Kanojo wa boku ni "anata ga suki da" to itta.
She top. me dat. "you-nom. like cop." quot. say-past
"She told me that she liked me" lit. "that 'I like you'"

See Japanese grammar for more examples of when と (to) is used.


Georgian marks quoted speech with one of two suffixes depending on the grammatical person of who made the original utterance, -მეთქი for the first person and -ო for the second and third person.[2]

The following sentences show the use of the first person and non-first person quotative particles respectively. Note the preservation of both the person and tense of the original utterances:

First person quotative[edit]

მოხუცმა იტირა, როცა ვუთხარი, რომ თქვენი ვაჟიშვილი ჯარში უნდა წავიდეს -მეთქი.[3]
Mokhutsma it'ira rotsa vutkhari rom tkveni vazhishvili jar-shi unda ts'avides metki.
He-ERG cry-AOR when I told-AOR him that your son-NOM in the army must he goes-OPT 1st person quot.
"The old man cried when I told him that his son had to enter the army" lit. "that 'your son has to enter the army.'"

Second and third person quotative[edit]

კახეთწი კი ინტურისტის ექსკურსიას უნდა გაყვე ო.[4]
K'akhet-shi k'i int'urist'is eksk'ursias unda gaqve o.
To Kakheti but Intourist-GEN excursion-DAT must you accompany-OPT it 3rd person quot.
"But (they said) that I had to accompany an Intourist excursion to Kakheti" lit. "that 'you must accompany'"

Note that this second sentence omits an overt verbum dicendi since the original speaker is already known, and context makes it clear that the speaker was the original addressee.

Ancient Greek[edit]

Ancient Greek can mark quoted speech in prose with the subordinating conjunction ὅτι:[5]

οἱ δὲ εἶπον ὅτι ἱκανοί ἐσμεν.[6]
They but said-AOR quot. ready we are-PAI1P.
"They said that they were ready" lit. "that 'we are ready'"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Japanese example sentences". Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  2. ^ Howard I. Aronson, A Reading Grammar, §8.5
  3. ^ Howard I. Aronson, A Reading Grammar, p. 218
  4. ^ Howard I. Aronson & Dodona Kiziria, Georgian Language and Culture: A Continuing Course, p. 68
  5. ^ Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Grammar, §2590a
  6. ^ Xenophon, Anabasis, 5.4.10