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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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    +1 because it is a good question but the example sentence are not the best because each can mean two VERY different things.
    – user4032
    Jun 3, 2015 at 7:15
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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, 2015 at 6:34
  • @Unknown Forgive me but those statements seem equivalent to me. (I am an English native)
    – paullb
    Jun 4, 2015 at 8:37
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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, 2015 at 10:16

1 Answer 1

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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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