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Expressing One's Thoughts
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Grammar/Expressions

When expressing one's thought, feelings, opinions, ideas and guesses, "~ to omou (I think that ~)" is frequently used. The particle "to" indicates that the preceding sentence or words are a quotation.

Since "~ to omou" always refers to the speaker's thoughts, "watashi wa" is normally omitted.

Ashita ame ga furu to omoimasu.
明日雨が降ると思います。
I think it will rain tomorrow.
Kono kuruma wa takai to omou.
この車は高いと思う。
I think this car is expensive.
Kare wa furansu-jin da to omou.
彼はフランス人だと思う。
I think he is French.
Kono kangae o
dou omoimasu ka.
この考えをどう思いますか。
What do you think about
this idea?
Totemo ii to omoimasu.
とてもいいと思います。
I think it is very good.

If the content of the quoted clause expresses one's intention or speculation about a future event or state, a volitional form of a verb is used preceding "~ to omou." To express a thought other than one's volition or opinion toward the future, a plain form of a verb or adjective is used preceding "~ to omou" as shown in the examples above.

Oyogi ni ikou to omou.
泳ぎに行こうと思う。
I think I'm going to swim.
Ryokou ni tsuite kakou to omou.
旅行について書こうと思う。
I think I will write about my trip.


To express a thought or idea you have at the time of your statement, "~ to omotte iru (I am thinking that ~)" is used rather than "~ to omou."

Haha ni denwa o shiyou to
omotte imasu.
母に電話しようと思っています。
I'm thinking of calling my mom.
Rainen nihon ni ikou to
omotte imasu.
来年日本に行こうと思っています。
I'm thinking of going to Japan
next year.
Atarashii kuruma o kaitai to
omotte imasu.
新しい車を買いたいと思っています。
I'm thinking that
I want to buy a new car.

When the subject is a third person, "~ to omotte iru" is used exclusively.

Kare wa kono shiai ni kateru to omotte iru.
彼はこの試合に勝てると思っている。
He thinks he can win this game.

Unlike English, the negation "I don't think" is normally placed within the quoted clause. It is possible to negate "~ to omou" such as "~ to omowanai," however, it expresses stronger doubt, and is close to the English "I doubt that ~."

Maki wa ashita
konai to omoimasu.
真紀は明日来ないと思います。
I don't think
Maki is coming tomorrow.
Nihongo wa
muzukashikunai to omou.
日本語は難しくないと思う。
I don't think Japanese is difficult.

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