I'm learning Indirect Quoting in Korean. On a website called funkorean4u.com, the following is written:

해요‘ is used for when you hear a sentence indirectly such as from news, rumors, a lot of people. ‘했어요‘ is used for when you hear a sentence directly from a person who says the sentence. You can use ‘들었어요’ instead of ‘해요

and they give the following example

윤정 씨는 매운 음식을 안 먹는다고 해요.(I heard Yoon Jeong doesn’t eat spicy food.)
윤정 씨는 매운 음식을 안 먹는다고 했어요.(Yoon Jeong said she doesn’t eat spicy food.)

And the following is the problem: I know the shortened form of (느)ㄴ다고 하다 is (느)ㄴ대요, so sentence "윤정 씨는 매운 음식을 안 먹는다고 해요.(I heard Yoon Jeong doesn’t eat spicy food)" can be shortened to "윤정 씨는 매운 음식을 안 먹는대요", right? but I don't know what the shortened form of (느)ㄴ다고 했다, so it's difficult for me to write the shortened form of "윤정 씨는 매운 음식을 안 먹는다고 했어요".

Can you help me? Thank you!

2 Answers 2


It will be easy if you remember that 고 can be omitted.

  • -다고 해 → -다 해 → -대

  • -다고 해요 → -다 해요 → -대요

  • -다고 했다 → -다 했다 → -댔다

  • -다고 했어 → -다 했어 → -댔어

  • -다고 했어요 → -다 했어요 → -댔어요

  • -다고 했습니다 → -다 했습니다 → -댔습니다

For example, these three sentences are the same:

  • 걔는 집에 간다고 했어요.

  • 걔는 집에 간다 했어요.

  • 걔는 집에 간어요.

  • Thank you so much. But in a book called Korean Grammar In Use, i saw a example as follows: "민준 씨가 한국에 돌아온대요". The book translate this example as "Minjun said he's returning to Korea". I think this translation is wrong, because it is "돌아온대요", not "돌아온댔어요", so the correct translation must be "I heard that Minjun is returning to Korea", right?
    – Thai Trinh
    Mar 10, 2020 at 14:32
  • Technically, the subject of that sentence is 민준 not "I" because the sentence ends with 해요 which means 말해요 here. The Korean tense system is more complicated than you think (I cannot tell you all the details here) and, for that sentence, "민준 (has) said ..." and even "민준 is saying ..." are correct depending on the context. You may also say "I heard ...", but it is not a literal translation.
    – Klmo
    Mar 10, 2020 at 15:55
  • I forgot to mention that the subject can also be "others," which is usually omitted from a sentence. If the subject is "others," the sentence can be translated as "They say 민준 is returning to Korea."
    – Klmo
    Mar 10, 2020 at 22:38

The paragraph you quoted is rather misleading. Although 해요/했어요 can be understood that way in many cases, the actual distinction is just that 해요 is present tense and 했어요 is past tense. Everything else is inferred from the context and can vary wildly.

Frequently, present tense like 해요 can be considered as so-called "habitual" construction, where the sentence describes something happening multiple times. It's also quite common in English, in both present and past tenses:

The train station opens at six (every day).

The dog would sit on the front porch and wait until Ben came home.

Susan and I used to eat there a lot.

So, given this:

윤정 씨는 매운 음식을 안 먹는다고 해요.

One natural interpretation is that people are saying this about 윤정 all the time. However, that's not the only possible interpretation. Consider the following exchange:

A: 자 맛있는 불닭볶음면이 나왔습니다.

B: 어, 윤정 씨도 오라고 할까요?

A: 방금 오다 봤는데, 윤정 씨는 매운 음식을 안 (먹는다고 해요/먹는대요). 우리끼리 먹읍시다.

Here A is using the sentence to describe something that just happened, that is, 윤정 told them she didn't like spicy food. (It's OK to use either present or past tense here: after all, it's very unlikely that Yoonjung's taste preference has changed in five minutes.)

Similarly, 했어요 may naturally mean "she told it about herself" in most cases, but we can easily imagine a situation where it was told by someone else: e.g., "윤정 어머님이 무슨 말씀을 하시던가요?"


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.