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Difference between と and とは?

For example in below sentences

そんなに大きいと思わなかった。

and

そんなに大きいとは思わなかった。

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    Not much difference in this case, although the latter strikes me as a bit more common. I would categorize the は in the latter sentence as a contrastive wa: "(I knew it was big, but) I didn't think it was this big". – dainichi Jun 3 '15 at 5:17
  • +1 because it is a good question but the example sentence are not the best because each can mean two VERY different things. – l'électeur Jun 3 '15 at 7:15
  • @l'électeur The examples I gave seem pretty clear to me "I didn't it it would be so big". Can you please elaborate on these VERY different meanings? – paullb Jun 4 '15 at 3:10
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    そんなに大きいとは思わなかった can mean 1. I didn't expect it would be so big (before I saw it). 2. I didn't think it was that big (when I saw it). – Chocolate Jun 4 '15 at 6:34
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    @paullb Hmm? (1) is like そんなに大きいとは思っていなかったが、実際に見てみると、意外に大きかった。I had not expected it to be so big. It was bigger than I had expected. Contrary to my expectations, it was big. (2) is like 私はそれをそんなに大きいとは思わなかった。むしろ小さいと思った。I saw it and didn't think it was big. Rather, I thought it was quite small. When I saw it, I had an impression that it was not big. – Chocolate Jun 4 '15 at 10:16
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In this case, there is very little difference, although the latter strikes me as a bit more common.

I would categorize the は in the latter sentence as a contrastive wa: "(I knew it was big, but) I didn't think it was this big".

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