Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 3: 19/22


Would or could say that..., Can probably say that..., Fair to say that...

と言える by itself makes the statement much more frank


Phrase + + () + ()える + だろう
Phrase + + () + いえ よう


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About と言える

()える is a common expression that utilizes the potential form of the verb ()う 'to say', to highlight that it is possible for something to be said. This phrase is often used to express a general idea about something that the speaker believes to be correct. ()える translates as 'it is fair to say (A)', or 'one could say (A)'.
As the case marking particle と is being used in its 引用(いんよう) (citation) use, ()える may follow any direct phrase/statement.
  • この儀式(ぎしき)日本(にほん)文化(ぶんか)(いと)()える
    It is fair to say that this ceremony is part of Japan's culture.
  • あのビルは日本一(にっぽんいち)(たか)いビルだ()える
    One could say that the building over there is the tallest building in Japan.
()える is regularly seen paired with grammar patterns like だろう, or でしょう. This makes the overall statement more friendly, by considering the listener's thoughts about the issue being presented. ()えるだろう can simply be translated as 'can we not say (A)?', or '(A) can be said, right?'.
  • このプランは成功(せいこう)した()えるだろう
    We could say that this plan was a success, right?
  • タナカ選手(せんしゅ)国民的(こくみんてき)アスリートだ()えるでしょう
    Can it not be said that Tanaka is an athlete loved by everyone in the country?
When the potential form of ()う is linked with the auxiliary verb よう, it creates a much stronger phrase that is similar to 'let it be said that (A)'.
  • (ひと)(はな)ているとき携帯(けいたい)()失礼(しつれい)だといえよう。
    Let it be said that looking at your phone while someone is talking to you is rude. (Anyone would say this, so don't make me say it to you)
Fun Fact
The speaker is usually relatively confident about their statement when using と()える, but the usage of a form that expresses conjecture shows that they are open to the possibility of being wrong, thus softening the tone.




    Compared to the previous fiscal year, it is fair to say that this year is a success.


    One could say that they got to the finish line at the same time.


    Boats are not as fast as planes are, but it is still fair to say that a lot of people enjoy trips by boat.


    You can probably say that the inventors were labeled as 'eccentrics' by the common folk.


    It is fair to say that life is getting easier due to (the advent of) computers in the 20th century.

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      と言える – Grammar Discussion

      Most Recent Replies (4 in total)

      • nekoyama


        I tried with cram and it accepted both for me. Is it possible you’re typoing it in review too and not just in this post (you wrote 言えば but it should be 言える)?

      • Schuylerca


        didn’t think I was doing that but maybe…the behavior was a little strange…but I have since restarted the computer so we shall see how it goes today

      • Daru


        The difference is politeness level!

        If it’s a polite sentence, switching to だろう is ungrammatical. On a casual sentence, でしょう is not terribly wrong but it feels off.

        You don’t say: 先生、東京タワーをご覧になりましたか。すごいだろう? since its a bit jarring. Hope this helps!

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