55 - Yo, hey. I think I'll... tell you my plans...

A few years back, when I was studying for JLPT N2 (even though I had already [just barely!] passed it), and I bought one of those JLPT Grammar books.

Specifically, I think I had this one:


(↑ Amazon Link ↑)

Reading through it, I remember thinking:

Why, Japanese people?! Why so much grammar?!

The list of grammar constructions just went on...

...and on...

...and on...

...and on...

😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

Kind of like how this guy feels about kanji:


(↑ YouTube Link ↑)

Now that I'm (much) better at Japanese, I feel less emo about the whole situation.

Mostly because I realize that, generally speaking, Japanese grammar is not too hard once you understand the way grammatical constructions relate and overlap.

For example, in the last lesson, I talked about how the volitional form ("let's VERB") can also be used to announce (to yourself, in front of someone) an action that you are considering.

In other words, with volitional, you can say both of these:
1) Hey, Other Person, let's VERB.
2) Hey, Self, let's VERB.

When we say #2 out loud, it is a very indirect way of telling someone something you're thinking of doing.

But we have to be careful when trying to express the level of thought that went into our considered decision.

For example, I could think to myself:

これ買おう。
kore kaou.
I think I'll buy this (jacket).
(Literally: "this + let's buy.")

Also, because this is a lightly made decision, I could also think it out loud to you:

これ買おう。
kore kaou.
I think I'll buy this (jacket).
(Literally: "this + let's buy.")

But what if I was thinking about a bigger decision, a decision that requires a bit more consideration?

For example, let's say that my nephew Greyson is a wealthy, genius, super-baby.

For the following NOT lightly made decision, he could think to himself:

車買おうかな~
kuruma kaou ka naa.
Hmm... maybe I'll buy a car...
(Literally: "car + let's buy + かな~")

Now, although it would be rare, it might be OK for him to think this out loud in certain situations.

For example, if you and Greyson were discussing his commute to work, and the two of you discovered that Greyson would save $3,000 a year by buying a car instead of taking taxis and the bus to work, then Greyson at this moment couldthink out loud to you:

車買おうかな~
kuruma kaou ka naa.
Hmm... maybe I'll buy a car...
(Literally: "car + let's buy + かな~")

BUT!!

Unless Greyson was super-rich, he almost certainly would NOT say the following:

車買おう。
kuruma kaou.
I think I'll buy a car...
(Literally: "car + let's buy.")

Buying a car is a big decision, and because it's a big decision, most people will either:
A) Seem less certain about this decision (i.e. add かな~ to the previous phrase). OR:
B) Indicate that they've been thinking about this decision for quite some time.

For Option B, we just add ~と思ってる (-to omotteru) to the end of our phrase:

車買おうと思ってる。
kuruma kaou to omotteru.
I'm considering buying a car. // I've been thinking about buying a car.
(Literally: "car + let's buy + と + am thinking.")
(Note: Less casually, 思ってる will appear as 思っている or, even more formally, as 思っています.)

I'm sure I've said this at some point in the past, but the present progressive in Japanese can match up with the present progressive or the present perfect progressive in English.

Gibberish, you say.

Yeah, sorry. What I mean is:

今勉強してる。
ima benkyou shiteru.
I'm studying right now.
(Literally: "now + am studying.")

AND

最近勉強してる。
saikin benkyou shiteru.
I've been studying recently.
(Literally: "recently + am studying.")
(Note: For both of these examples we're using してる, but less casually that's している, and formally that's しています.)

...have the same verb conjugated the same way, but, due to the contextual information, one is becoming "I'm studying" and one is becoming "I have been studying."

So in a weird, half-literal translation, we could make the following leap:

車買おう (kuruma kaou; "I think I'll buy a car.")
+
と (to; [quote marker])
+
思ってる (omotteru; "have been thinking")
=
車買おうと思ってる
kuruma kaou to omotteru.
I've been thinking about buying a car.


To Sum Up

For decisions that we have been considering for some time, we use:

★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★
VOLITIONAL VERB + と思ってる.
★☆★☆★☆★☆★☆★

To take an example from this book, we could say:

会社をやめて、1年ぐらい留学しようと思っています。
kaisha wo yamete, ichi nen gurai ryuugaku shiyou to omotteimasu.
I'm considering quitting my job and studying abroad for a year or so. // I've been thinking about quitting my job and studying abroad for a year or so.
(Literally: "company + を + quit and + one year + about + let's study abroad + と + am thinking.")

Said more casually (because I have so many more opportunities to speak casual Japanese, I find), we'd delete the particle を and change the verb to 思ってる:

会社やめて、1年ぐらい留学しようと思ってる。
kaisha yamete, ichi nen gurai ryuugaku shiyou to omotteru.
I'm considering quitting my job and studying abroad for a year or so. // I've been thinking about quitting my job and studying abroad for a year or so.
(Literally: "company + quit and + one year + about + let's study abroad + と + am thinking.")

Note that this does not have to be a big, life-changing decision. It can be any decision that you have or are putting some (considerable) time into making. For example...

今夜は焼肉にしようと思ってる。
konya wa yakiniku ni shiyou to omotteru.
I'm thinking of having [making; going to] yakiniku for dinner tonight.
(Literally: "tonight + は + yakiniku + に + let's do + と + am thinking.")


"Buy my teacher said blah blah blah..."

Speaking of that book I mentioned earlier, it also says the following:

*** Begin Quote ***
V ようと思っています is used when the speaker has been resolved to doing something for some time. V ようと思います expresses judgment or resolution made at the moment of speaking.
*** End Quote ***

So yeah, for the earlier example of the jacket, I could say:

これ買おうと思う。
kore kaou to omou.
I think I'll buy this (jacket).
(Literally: "this + let's buy + と + think.")

This has pretty much the same meaning as leaving out と思う (to omou), except, when I leave out と思う, there is no pressure on the listener to respond to my statement whatsoever. With と思う I'm saying this to him/her, without と思う I'm saying it to myself in front of him/her.


Pop Quiz, Yo!

With everything that we've seen so far, when do you think we would say the following sentence?

これ買おうと思ってる。
kore kaou to omotteru.

The answer is... WE DON'T!

If I'm at the store suddenly looking at a jacket, then it's not a decision I've been considering for some time. So 思ってる is not used.


Wait! Almost finished!

Last but not least, you will often hear Japanese people cut off the 思う but NOT the と.

So...

これ買おーっと。
kore kaoo tto.
I think I'll buy this.

This is the same meaning as leaving out the と.

I suppose at first it was just a shortening of ~と思う (to omou)?

But yeah, it gives the nuance of speaking to oneself.

I recommend practicing the intonation of this one with a native speaker.


Finally

That is A LOT of nuances, yeah?

Might want to read through this a few times.

Discussion

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