The quoting particle と and I think

Express what you think

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KanjiVocabularyThe quoting particle と and I think



He, That

Cut, Be sharp, Heartfelt

Doing, Official, Serve

Thing, Fact, Business, Reason



To think, To consider

He, Him, Boyfriend


She, Her, Girlfriend


Beautiful, Pretty


To be sunny, To clear up


Important, Necessary, Careful


Job, Work, Business, Labour

The quoting particle と and I think


We learned two uses of the particle in this lesson: connecting two nouns and identifying who you are doing an action with. Here we will learn a third usage which is to quote. It is usually used in “I think…” and “I say…” sentences. In this lesson, we will focus on わたし は X とおも which means I think X.

おも is just a regular う-verb that means “to think” or "to believe", and its polite non-past affirmative form is おもいます. In English, the quoting part comes after “I think” but in Japanese, it comes between わたし and おも. However, it is always the speaker that "thinks" so 私は is often omitted.おも has two uses in Japanese: to express a speaker’s judgment, opinion, or thought, and to show the speaker’s will and desire. We will talk about the first use here and focus on the second use in the next lesson. The plain form of verbs, dictionary form of い-adjectives, dictionary form of な-adjective + , and nouns + can come before おも.
  • 明日あしたれるとおもう。
  • I think it will be sunny tomorrow.
  • あのひとうつくしいとおもう。
  • I think that person is beautiful.
  • 友達ともだち大切たいせつだとおもいます。
  • I think friends are important.
  • 今日きょう彼女かのじょ仕事しごとだとおもいます。
  • I think she got some work today.

The negative form of と思う

When forming a negative sentence with おも, you can either make the quoting clause negative or make the “I think…” part negative. When simply stating your opinion, the quoting clause often becomes negative as shown below:

  • その映画えいが面白おもしろくないとおもいます。
  • I think that movie is not interesting.
  • 仕事しごと大切たいせつじゃないとおもう。
  • I think work is not important.

When denying a statement that someone else made, it is more common to negate the “I think…” part as shown below:

  • A: わたしはあのあたらしい映画えいが面白おもしろいとおもう。
  • I think the new movie is interesting.
  • B: わたし面白おもしろいとはおもいません。
  • I don’t think [that movie] is interesting.
  • A: わたし仕事しごと大切たいせつだとおもいます。
  • I think work is important
  • B: わたし大切たいせつだとはおもわない。
  • I don't think it is important

The particle is there to show the contrast to the other person’s statement.

Tenses with と思う

In English, the tenses in the quoting part and “I think” part have to match: I think he comes or I thought he came. In Japanese, the two parts can take different tenses and each of them has a different meaning.

  • かれるとおもいます。
  • I think he will come.

This is the original sentence with both clauses in non-past tense. In this sentence, at the moment, the speaker “thinks” that “he” has not come yet.

  • かれたとおもいます。
  • I think he came.

The quoting part is past tense and the “I think” part is non-past tense in the sentence above. It shows that at the moment the speaker “thinks” that "he" has already come.

  • かれるとおもいました。
  • I thought he would come.

The quoting part is non-past tense and the “I think” part is past tense in the sentence above. It shows that at a point in the past when he has not come yet, the speaker “thought” "he" would come.

  • かれたとおもいました。
  • I thought he came.

Both parts are past tense in the sentence above. It shows at a point in the past when he has not come yet, the speaker “thought” he came, though whether he actually came or not is unknown.

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