Quotation is an important language skill and we’ve already covered direct quotation. However, like in English there is another way to do quotations in Korean: the indirect quotation. The indirect quotation is marked by the fact it lacks the use of quotation marks often associated with quotation. However, to do indirect quotation in Korean there are a few things you need to know.

Short Focus

Unlike direct quotation, indirect quotation is a way of quotation that does not use quotation marks. While direct quotation is a word for word citation of someone, indirect quotation is not. It often is an interpretation by the speaker of what was conveyed. In Korean the indirect quotation is far more complicated than direct quotation because the form of indirect quotation changes depending the type of sentence that is being quoted.

So let’s get started on exploring the many forms that make up indirect quotation.

Indirect Quotation: Declarative Sentences

The first sentence pattern for indirect quotation is the declarative sentence. For those unaware what a declarative sentence is, it is the a sentence to declare something, you are simply sharing information with someone such as facts. When you use this sentence pattern in indirect quotation, you also need to look at the tense for the pattern changes depending the tense.

Present tense

The present tense, however, brings even more complexity because it is also important to know what the verb of the quote is. This also determines the form.

  • Verbs: For action verbs this pattern is used: Verb stem + -(느)ㄴ다고 하다.
  • Adjectives: Adjective use this pattern: Adjective verb stem + -다고 하다.
  • Nouns (이다): Nouns use this pattern: Noun + -(이)라고 하다.

These patterns follow the batchim/no batchim rule, so keep the irregular verbs in mind.

Quotation: Indirect Quotation - Declarative Present Tense
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A short overview of indirect quotes in the declarative present tense.

Past tense

Luckily for us only the present tense is that complicated. The pattern will remain the same regardless the type of verb in the past tense declarative indirect quotation which is: -었/았/했/였다고 하다. The pattern as you can see follows the 아/어/해 conjugation rule. One you should be all too familiar with by now.

Quotation: Indirect Quotation - Declarative Past Tense
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A short overview of indirect quotes in the declarative past tense.

Future tense

Like the past tense, the future tense declarative indirect quotation does not care about the type of verb used in the quotation. The pattern for the future tense is: -(으)ㄹ 거라고 하다. This pattern adheres to the batchim/no batchim rule. However, keep the ㄹ irregular verbs in mind.

Quotation: Indirect Quotation - Declarative Future Tense
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A short overview of indirect quotes in the declarative future tense.

Indirect Quotation: Interrogative Sentences

For indirect quotation of interrogative sentences, it is once again important to know what kind of verb you use in the your quotation. The form changes depending the verb type.

  • Verbs and Adjectives: For verbs and adjectives this pattern is used: Verb stem + -냐고 하다.
  • Nouns (이다): Nouns use this pattern: Noun + -(이)냐고 하다.*

However, like the declarative sentences, the forms change slightly depending the tense. This change is similar as seen when talking about the declarative sentence, but this time –냐고 하다 serves as the base form, becoming -었/았/했/였냐고 하다 for paste tense and -(으)ㄹ 거냐고 하다 for the future tense. Furthermore it is important to make sure the listener knows you are indirectly quoting a question so using simply 하다 is not a good idea. Instead using verbs such as 묻다 and 물어보다.

*This pattern follows the batchim/no batchim rule.

Quotation: Indirect Quotation - Interrogative
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A short overview of interrogative indirect quotes.

Indirect Quotation: Suggestive Sentences

The indirect quotation of suggestive sentences is perhaps the easiest indirect quotation pattern among all these patterns. This is mostly because suggestions are only made using verbs, so there isn’t a lot of options to make it more complicated. The pattern for suggestive sentences is: -자고 하다. This pattern can simply be attached to the verb stem without any other thought.

However, there is also another form: the negative suggestive form. To use a negative suggestion you use the following pattern: -지 말자고 하다. This pattern like its positive counterpart can just be attached to the verb stem without second thought.

Quotation: Indirect Quotation - Suggestive
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A short overview of suggestive indirect quotes.

Indirect Quotation: Imperative Sentences

Lastly there are imperative sentences. To indirectly quote imperative sentences there are two patterns you can use. The first pattern is the general imperative sentence, which is: -(으)라고 하다. This pattern adheres to the batchim/no batchim rule, but keep the ㄹ irregular verbs in mind.

The second pattern is a more specific pattern. It is the indirect quotation of an imperative sentence that uses the -어/아 주다 form or when the verb 주다 is used in its 주세요 imperative form. For these sentence you actually have two different options.

First, there is 어/아/해/여 달라고 하다. When the verb is 주다 the pattern of this option becomes 달라고 하다.  This pattern is used when the speaker of what is being quoted is making a request for himself. He is the recipient of whatever is being asked.

However, when the quoted speaker is making a request for someone else you use a different form. This form is 어/아/해/여 주라고 하다. When the verb is 주다 the pattern of this option becomes 주라고 하다.

Like the suggestive sentence, there is also a specific negative form for imperative quotes. The negative imperative pattern is: -지 말라고 하다.

Quotation: Indirect Quotation - Imperative
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A short overview of imperative indirect quotes.

저 And 나 In The Indirect Quotation

When 저 And 나 was used in the sentence you indirectly quote, you need a different word for that. Both 저 and 나 become 자기. 자기 does not refer to you and so does not mean “I, me” like 저 And 나. It is the third person pronoun used in indirect quotations.

정환 씨가 자기한테 말하라고 했어요.

Korean Indirect Quotation Overview
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A short overview of all Korean indirect sentence types.