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I just realized today that for some reason I'm pretty uncomfortable with things like そう思う because the Japanese そう has a meaning akin to saying isn't that so in English. But when you say そう思う, そう is being treated as what's being thought, right? So is it more appropriate to say そうと思う?Because it is the subject in this case, right?

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The そう is 副詞/an adverb (meaning #1 in そう【然う】) and the subject for the verb 思う can be 私, あなた etc. (can be omitted), depending on the context. Like, わたしは*そう*(≒そのように/そんなふうに)思います。I think so / that way.

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  • I thought そう思う was short for そうだと思う. Is that not correct?
    – Questioner
    Oct 14 '13 at 1:28
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    @DaveMG I think they're different.
    – user1478
    Oct 14 '13 at 4:50
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    @DaveMG ちょっとニュアンスが違うかも。。。(「そう思う」は「そうだと思う」の短くなった形、ではないと思います・・・たぶん)
    – user1016
    Oct 14 '13 at 8:14
  • @snailboat: Thanks for the link. That clears it up.
    – Questioner
    Oct 15 '13 at 5:23
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I think you are misunderstanding the grammatical use of そう as in そう思う、そう(だ)and  other "fundamentals" such as the use of と(as in と思います, という etc):

そう&こう are used to refer to the previous sentence and are used with a verb like an adverb.

eg

困ったとき助けてくれる友達がいる。そう思うと安心する。

I have a friends who help me when I am in trouble. When I remember this, I relax.

(Reference: 新完全マスターN3文法 p134)

so

そう思う= I think [the previous sentence is true/correct]

and

そうだ = That statement (or sentence) is true/correct.

そうですか= (literally in a grammatical sense) Is that statement so / true?

by extension:

そうだと思う = "I think that statement (or sentence) is true/correct"

Here you are stating what you think is correct but you are not certain.

そうと思う might be understood but I don't think it works for reasons explained in the accepted answer to the following question:

When is 「だ/である」required between a noun and the quotation particle と?

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