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I've encountered phrases such as

Он говорит о том, что...

Which seems to mean something like "He says that...", ie "He says that the store is closed" or something ("Он говорит о том, что магазин закрыт"?).

My questions are:

  1. What precisely does this sentence mean, and how does it compare to other (if there are other) sentence structures for saying "He says that..." ?

  2. Is "Он говорит что..." on its own not correct? This would be closer to the English "He says that...".

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Он говорит о том, что => "he's talking about how...", "he's talking about the fact that..."

Он говорит, что (note the comma) => "he says that..."

Essentially, the former refers to the subordinate clause being the topic someone is speaking on (or the message they're trying to get across), while the latter is your basic reported speech.

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Both Он говорит о том, что and Он говорит, что are translations of the He says that and are completely interchangable if used for nouns that can produce sound (he, she, radio, tv etc).
For other nouns, it's better to use the long form. And its meaning is .. tells that. For example: Это говорит о том, что...It tells that.

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  • Inanimate nouns? Where are they in your example? And what about "Радио говорит, что ...." "По радио сказали, что ...."? "Радио" is inanimate, isn't it? – Yellow Sky Sep 24 '15 at 18:47
  • Would it be accurate to translate "Он говорит о том, что" as "He says about it, that..." – Jack M Sep 24 '15 at 18:47
  • @YellowSky you are right, thank you. I'll think how to fix it... – Dmitry Sep 24 '15 at 18:51
  • @JackM I think you are right, It is accurate. – Dmitry Sep 24 '15 at 18:55
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   это говорит о том, что нечто делает то-то
              -------
      __________/      
     /         
   what it says, that it's doing smth on that

  
   это говорит, что нечто делает то-то

   it says that it's doing smth on that

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