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Can someone explain to me the difference between the following forms?

  • 思った
  • 思ってた
  • 思っていた
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

In English, you might be able to think of those forms like this:

思った(I) thought

思ってた and 思っていた(I) was thinking, (I) had thought, or (I) had been thinking.

Do note that 思ってた and 思っていた are the same... but 思っていた is more of a form you would want to use in formal writing. In conversational writing, however, you are often free to use either form (depending on the audience to whom the writing is being addressed.)

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This answer is somewhat misleading, or oversimplified at least. See my explanation in this answer to a related question: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/13115/… – Darius Jahandarie Apr 4 '14 at 22:16
@DariusJahandarie The goal of this particular answer was to provide an answer for this particular question. This answer may be oversimplified, but you are always free to add your own answer. As far as "misleading", however, I would like to know what you mean... – summea Apr 4 '14 at 22:28
@DariusJahandarie And if it helps, do note: this answer was written more than 6 months before the answer you posted (in the link above). – summea Apr 4 '14 at 22:40
Misleading only in the sense that it suggests that 「思う」 ⇔ "to think", when the situation is actually more complicated than that. I also feel silly writing essentially the exact same thing in two different answers. – Darius Jahandarie Apr 4 '14 at 23:14
@DariusJahandarie In that case, it's interesting to me how the examples given in your linked answer also refer to 思う as meaning "think/thought" throughout your examples... (from the link: 〜思う 1. thought/think 2. think 3. think/thought 4. thought x. thought). If we are to consider all of the different meanings for 思う in English (or any other word, for that matter,) the idea of a simple answer may begin to fade away... – summea Apr 4 '14 at 23:22

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