Te or not Te, that is the question


What was the on’yomi for this kanji again?“

Could I get some help with this sentence? It’s a good example of two grammar points I haven’t been able to decipher, and they come up pretty often.

First is the “って.” It looks like a Te-form, but I’m not sure that it really is. 音読み is a noun, not a verb or adjective that I’m used to seeing Te-forms. However, the ending 読み was originally a verb so maybe that plays a role??

Next is the ending of “だっけ.” I know “だ” and “だった”. Is this another conjugation of that verb/copula??


1 Like

I feel that the って in this sentence is a quote, not verb te-form. (Let me read up on this again so I can explain it better…)

っけ is a “recall particle” (as I like to call it…) in this case it’s the “again” like, “when’s your birthday again?”

OK, so another example of って. I feel like this is one of those things better explained with examples… or I’m just bad at teaching lol

  • WHOって、何のことですか。
    What’s “WHO”?

So it can be translated to “so-called,” “named” or just directly quoting something, putting the word or phrase before it in quotation marks. Some more reading: https://jlptsensei.com/learn-japanese-grammar/って-tte-meaning/

Also like to add っけ can also be like a confirmation particle, like “Your name is Anne, right?”


って is a casual shortening of 〇〇と言う and a good translation is “speaking of 〇〇.”
It would translate as “Speaking of this kanji’s on’yomi…”


Thank you! This have been driving me crazy!

1 Like

Perfect, thanks!

って can be a shortening for と, but I think here you can think of it as just a casual form of は.


Not sure what you meant, but この漢字の音読みと言う何だっけ is not grammatically correct.

@magsi Not sure I would call it a quote here, either. The grammar point you linked is a different case, where っていう is modifying a noun. Here’s an explanation from Bunpro.


Not strictly a part of the original question, but it’s worth remembering that a lot of verbs can act as nouns like this one (音読み) in their stem form:
読む → 読み (reading or a reading material)
泳ぐ → 泳ぎ (literally “swimming”, as a noun)
開く → 開き (opening, as in プール開き - pool opening)
違う → 違い (difference)
Sometimes the tailing kana is not written like in 受付 or 話 so it can be confusing.


Agreed. I think the meaning/the idea definitely comes from って being a casual と or という (here one might even think of it as a collapsed というのは, which is what appears in 大辞林’s definition), but I think the most explanation given in textbooks and grammar resources is that it’s equivalent to a ‘casual /colloquial は’.

I’d just like to say that my understanding is that in both of your examples, there’s an attempt on the speaker’s part to remember/confirm something. There’s an element of doubt, and the sentence is a question. There’s another usage for which っけ is a pure ‘recall’ particle, in which case the sentence is not a question, but simply an expression of remembrance or a nostalgic remark. You can find some examples here under usage 6):
https://maggiesensei.com/2013/09/08/casual-suffix-〜っけkke- /

In this case, it’s not so much like ‘again’ or ‘right’ at the end of a sentence as it is like ‘ah, yes’ or ‘oh, right’ at the start of a sentence uttered by someone recalling something.


I might be wrong, but I had heard that it was originally a shortening of と言う. I’ve looked a bit into it and found this page which says って can be used in place of と but is also used to replace ということ

the casual way to say ということ ( = toiukoto) is
っていうこと ( =tte iu koto) or simply って ( = tte)

After all, この漢字の音読みと何だっけ isn’t grammatically correct either.

って can certainly can behave as は because “Speaking of” and “As for” both basically have the same grammatical purpose in pointing out a topic, as shown in the Bunpro page you linked, but the “speaking” part is important in explaining why it establishes the topic.

The sentence この漢字の音読みと何だっけ is technically grammatically correct, but the と in this scenario means “if” so it means something completely different.

1 Like

I would agree with Jona here and ということ alone has a slightly different nuance and for the sentence to still make sense, it would have to be ということは, which for instance in structures like などは(などというXは)still abbreviates to は.

と何 would make sense in some contexts and I’ve seen it used, but can’t remember how exactly now :frowning: . Not sure if it was meant as “if”, perhaps something else.


There are a lot of details and hidden structures which I might have been slightly wrong about that make the sentence grammatically correct, but I really just wanted to be able to confirm there’s actually a hidden いう in there which allows the idea of って as a topic marker to make sense.


Yeah, that’s why って is not replacing と here. Were not quoting anything.

I can’t really find any examples there where that’s happening. Sounds a bit weird. There are tons of ways how to us って, and I’ve internalized it more than I think about it technically. If we are talking about where it evolved, that’s a different thing. Not sure I would think just って having an internal いう.

No, that would be the definitive list meaning of と. If you want the conditional, you’d need a だ in there. この漢字の音読みだと… 何だっけ could make sense in some context, I guess.

EDIT: I was slow and I guess the posters above said better what I was trying to say.


Since there seems to be a lot of confusion over this って, I’d like to give my take on it. It’s not the same thing as the て form, and you can recognize it because it will come after a noun (like 音読み in your example) or the plain form of a verb (e.g. するって). It’s also always って, whereas the て form often does not have a small つ. (Only certain godan verb types do.)

This って is a casual quoting particle, and I believe as others said it originally was derived from という. It can stand in for basically any quoting construction… という、というのは、ということ(は) etc. which makes it a very versatile construction and is why it’s hard to match it to one exact meaning. I often think of it as “X you say?”, as it tends to (but not always) is used to comment on something that whoever you are talking to just said. It can also effectively function as a replacement for は, which I think is the best way to parse your example sentence. In this case it’s a little more like “Hey you know that ‘X’ thing…”


Thanks everyone! All of your responses really helped. Great discussion. I’m really glad I posted this.