Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

These two words both seem to mean "to think", but is there any difference between them? Is it related to the difference between 言う and 話す by any chance?

share|improve this question
    
I am surprised to see that this question was not asked on this website before! –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jan 13 '13 at 21:26
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I'll base my answer around this Japanese thesaurus entry which discusses the difference between 思う and 考える.

思う is more subjective or emotional - for example: worries, hopes, affection, supposition/imagination (as in 'It wasn't as big as I had imagined (thought) it would be') etc.

考える is for more objective and logical thought.

At the bottom of the thesaurus page I linked there is a table which shows various sentences and whether or not 思う and 考える could be used in them (a ◯ in the box means it can be used).

Let's take a look at some examples from the table:

おいしいと思う
'I think it tastes good'

In this is case 思う is used because it is your own subjective opinion.

なぜ失敗したのか考える
'think about why (I) failed'

This time it is 考える because you are trying to logically think through why you failed.

日本の将来を思う/考える
'think about the future of Japan'

In this example it is OK to use either. Without further context it's hard to say for sure, but 思う here could indicate a subjective concern for the the future of Japan, whereas with 考える the speaker might simply be thinking through how Japan is going to be in the future.

EDIT: I forgot you had mentioned 言う and 話す. The difference with those two is like 'saying something' v.s. 'talking to/with somebody'. Not related, I would say, to 思う and 考える.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.