~ To Omou: Expressing Thought in Japanese

After you’ve studied basic conjugation of verbs in Japanese, you can express your thoughts in simple Japanese sentences. “My older sister is funny” is “Ane ga omoshiroi desu.” “My younger brother will see that movie” is “Otouto ga ano eiga wo mimasu.” And the like.

But what if you’re not entirely sure about the idea you’d like to express? What if you’d like to emphasize that the idea you’re expressing is your opinion and is not necessarily fact? The verb omou can help you do just that. Omou usually translates to “to think,” but depending on the context, it can be translated as “to believe” as well. (Not in the context of “believing in” something, though.)

Omou is a Group 1 Verb. According to Group 1 Verb patterns, you conjugate omou as follows:

Plain/Casual Form:

omou = I* think

omowanai = I* don’t think

omotta = I* thought

omowanakatta = I* didn’t think

Polite/Formal Form:

omoimasu = I* think

omoimasen= I* don’t think

omoimashita = I* thought

omoimasen deshita = I* didn’t think

Gerund Form:

omotte = I am* thinking

* Remember that verb conjugations apply to any noun or pronoun. In other words, omou can mean either “I think,” “You think,” “He/She/It thinks,” “We think,” or “They think,” depending on the context.

To say that you “think” something, you place the correct conjugation of omou at the very end of your sentence or clause because it’s the primary verb of the phrase. When using another verb in the sentence–for example, “I think that my younger brother will see that movie” — use the plain present tense of the verb (the verb unconjugated), followed by to and then the proper conjugation you need for omou.

“I think that my younger brother will see that movie” = Otouto ga ano eiga wo miru to omoimasu.

“I don’t think that my older sister is funny.” = Ane ga omoshiroi* to omowanai.

*Remember that some adjectives are conjugated like verbs.

Practice saying you think or don’t think things. “Gakkou wa shichiji ni hajimarimasu” is “School starts at 7:00.” How would you say “I think school starts at 7:00″?

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Tags: japan, japanese language, omou, verb conjugation