toomou (と思う) | Meaning and Examples [JLPT N4]

toomou (と思う) | Meaning and Examples [JLPT N4]

(おも)う (to omou) is an expression meaning I think ... .と(おも)う is used to indicate one's opinion or idea, often in a subjective way.

(おも)う is a widely used expression in Japanese. We commonly find this expression when someone wants to express their ideas or opinions, which happens very often during a discussion.

For this reason, it is important to learn how the expression(おも)う is formed and how to use it. In this post we go to see the origin and meaning of と(おも)う.

What is the expression と(おも)う made of

(おも)う is the combination of the particle と (quote) and the verb (おも)う (to think):

  • と is used to quote that what is said before
  • (おも)う literally translates the verb to think

In this way, と(おも)う is used to say that we think what the particle と mentions earlier. Let's see an example:


I think I'm going to see a movie.

We can break this sentence down to understand the meaning:

  • (えい)()()()く: I'm going to see a film, indicates the action that is quoted by the particle と
  • ~と(おも)う: I think ..., quote the sentence expressed above by translating the expression I think I do

How to use と(おも)

(おも)う can be used with both verbs and adjectives (な and い), and also with nouns.

In the case of nouns and adjectives in な, the expression と(おも)う must be preceded by the copula だ:

You cannot use です in place of だ. です is always found at the end of the sentence.

To form the polite form instead of using です just conjugate と(おも)う in its ます form ((おも)います):


I think this is great.

Although と(おも)う requires だ after adjectives in な and nouns, in colloquial spoken language だ is often omitted.

Quotations with the particle と

In this expression, the particle と serves to quote what we think. Its use is simple, and this particle can also be used with other verbs such as:

  • ()う: と()う (my name is)
  • ()く: と()く (I heard that)
  • (かんが)える
Since と quotes what is said before, the quote must be in the plain form of the verb.

Difference between (おも)う and (かんが)える

We also often find the expression (かんが)える to indicate what a person thinks.

The main difference between (おも)う and (かんが)える is that:

  • (おも)う is more subjective and emotional. It is most often used to indicate worries, hopes, assumptions
  • (かんが)える is most often used for logical and objective opinions

Difference between に(おも)う and と(おも)

It is also possible to find the particle に followed by the verb (おも)う. In this case the difference with と(おも)う is that:

  • (〜 が) 〜だと(おも)う indicates something we think is in a certain way
  • (〜 を) 〜に(おも)う indicates how we think or feel about a certain aspect or opinion (towards something, direction expressed by the particle に)


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