In the short story 「悪魔」by 星新一 , a man walks onto a frozen lake to go ice fishing, carves out a small hole in the ice, and throws in the line. But after throwing in the line, there's a 文型 I've never encountered, and I can't find an explanation for it online or in any of my many grammar and 文型 dictionaries. The sentence goes 「そこから糸をたらして、魚を釣ろうというのだった。」Could somebody please help me understand the meaning of volitional + というのだった or volitional + というのだ? When I search for examples of this online, most often the expression goes 「xx をもらおうというのだ。」

Thank you for your help.

  • newbie here, It looks like a quotation.
    – chepe263
    Apr 29, 2015 at 20:24
  • Hi here. Do you mean that it looks like a quotation because of the brackets 「」? I actually put those there myself to quote the book
    – user69325
    Apr 29, 2015 at 20:35
  • I sait it because the というの。。。
    – chepe263
    Apr 29, 2015 at 20:50
  • 2
    @chepe263 Note that という is a complementizer grammaticalized from と+言う and doesn't always follow a literal quote.
    – user1478
    Apr 29, 2015 at 21:01
  • Sounds like that's part of the writing style. Can you post some additional sentences from before and after that sentence to give us more context?
    – peacetype
    Apr 29, 2015 at 23:12

1 Answer 1


It means "he meant to dip the string through that hole and fish".

When the subject is 2nd or 3rd person, というだ or ということだ work. Otherwise, it has to be ということだ only, i.e. you can't use というのだ for "I mean"(*) or "it means".

(* Accurately, というのだ for "I mean" still works when you express your own action through other person's perspective.)

  • Thank you for your help. When you say "he meant to," the construction 「xxようとした」(or in this case 「xxろうとした」) comes to mind. If I'm not mistaken, this means something like "subj. tried to verb," the "tried to" of which seems to me somewhat similar to "meant to." Are the two constructions at all related, and can the one be substituted for the other?
    – user69325
    May 3, 2015 at 6:38

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