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When thinking of using ‘omou,’ remember the subject dictates the form

by and

Special To The Japan Times

Jitensha-de zeimusho-ni itte-koyō-to omou. (I think I’ll go to the tax office by bike.)

Situation 1: Mr. Shiba plans to go to the tax office tomorrow.

夫:  明日、晴れていたら、自転車で税務署に行ってこようと思う。

妻:  天気予報で雨って言っていたから、自転車では行けないと思うけど。

Otto: Ashita, harete-itara, jitensha-de zeimusho-ni itte-koyō-to omou.

Tsuma: Tenki-yohō-de ame-tte itte-ita-kara, jitensha-de-wa ikenai-to omou-kedo.

Husband: If it’s sunny tomorrow, I think I’ll go to the tax office by bike.

Wife: Since the weather forecast said it’ll rain, I’m afraid you won’t be able to cycle.

Today, we’ll introduce ways of using the verb 思(おも)う (to think) correctly. In the pattern X(phrase)と思う/思います, the sentence subject is usually the speaker himself or herself. For example, the translation of the sentence 彼(かれ)は来(く)ると思います is “I think he will come,” not “He thinks he/she will come.” To say “I think I will come,” it is better to use 来(こ)ようと思います than 来(く)ると思います, since the former expresses the speaker’s will using the volitional form of the verb.

Situation 2: High school classmates and friends Mitsuo and Kenta are talking about which university to apply for.

光男:  あーあ、志望大学、どうしようかなあ。宏は、東大以外は大学じゃないって思っているから、悩むこともなくて、いいよなあ。

健太:  宏が、そう言っていたの?

光男:  いや、そうじゃないけど、東大しか受けないって言っていたから、ぜったいそう思っているよ。

Mitsuo: Āa, shibō-daigaku, dō-shiyō-ka-nā. Hiroshi-wa, Tōdai-igai-wa daigaku-ja nai-tte omotte-iru-kara, nayamu koto-mo nakute, ii-yo-nā.

Kenta: Hiroshi-ga sō-itte-ita-no?

Mitsuo: Iya, sō-ja nai-kedo, Tōdai-shika ukenai-tte itte-ita-kara, zettai sō omotte-iru-yo.

Mitsuo: Hmm, I wonder which university I should apply for. Hiroshi thinks that any university other than Todai (University of Tokyo) isn’t even a university, so he doesn’t have to worry about it. I envy him.

Kenta: Did Hiroshi say that?

Mitsuo: No, but he said he’s only applying for Todai, so I’m sure that’s what he’s thinks.

To express “(S)he/they think(s) X,” you can use Xと思っている/います, as Mitsuo does in Situation 2. This pattern can also be used your yourself to mean “I’m thinking of X (right now),” but whereas X(phrase)と思う/思います can also communicate what you are thinking (as in Situation 1), for “(S)he/they think(s) X,” you should stick to Xと思っている/います.

Bonus Dialogue: At the office after work, Mr. Mita is talking with his female colleagues about a woman he asked on a date.

三田:   彼女(かのじょ)がぼくのこと、どう思(おも)っているのか、わからないんだ。

グレイ:  あれっ、うまくいっていると思(おも)っていたのに。

田町:    三田(みた)さん、この間(あいだ)、初(はじ)めてデートにOKしてくれたって喜(よろこ)んでいたじゃない。

三田:  それが…、彼女に急用(きゅうよう)ができて、キャンセルになったんだ。

グレイ:  じゃあ、まだデートしていないの?

三田:   うん。その後(あと)、アポを取(と)りなおそうと思って何度(なんど)も誘(さそ)っているんだけど、彼女、いつも忙(いそが)しいって言(い)って…。女性(じょせい)の 気持(きも)ちってわからないなあ。ふたりはどう思う?

田町:   2か月も断(ことわ)られ続(つづ)けているんでしょ?そういう場合(ばあい)、答(こた)えは決(き)まっているよね。

グレイ:  うん、だれだってわかるよね。だけど、悲観的(ひかんてき)な答えはぜったい思いつかないというのが、三田さんのいいところかも!

Mita: I don’t know what she thinks of me.

Gray: Oh dear, I thought you were getting along well.

Tamachi: Mr. Mita, the other day you were pleased that she’d agreed to go on a date for the first time.

Mita: Well, later, she had some urgent job on and canceled.

Gray: So, you haven’t been on a date yet?

Mita: No. After that, I tried setting a date again and again. But she keeps saying she’s busy. I don’t understand the way women’s feelings work. Ms. Gray, Ms. Tamachi, what do you think?

Tamachi: You’ve been turned down for two months, right? In that case, the answer is very clear.

Gray: Anyone could see that. But perhaps not being able to see any answer pessimistically is one of your good points, Mr. Mita!