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From my newbie understanding, isn't "I think" and "I'm called" which is "My name is", the same phrase?

.... to moushimasu -> ... I think
Bill to moushimasu -> I'm called or my name is Bill

Or did I get it wrong?

  • You appear to have confused と思う 'to omou' and と申す 'to mousu'. As a note, in the same register as と申す, と思う becomes と存じる 'to zonjiru'. – Aeon Akechi May 19 '16 at 0:37
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~と[思]{おも}います (to omoimasu) <-- I think

~と[申]{もう}します (to moushimasu) <-- I'm called 

These just sound really similar because they are same letters/sounds.

  • 2
    Native speakers of languages like English that don't really have contrasts between short and long vowels might not notice anything different between the two except the consonant in し. That is, they might not hear the difference between とお and と, or between も and もう, because their native languages haven't prepared them to hear the difference. So for a non-Japanese speaker, the two words might sound surprisingly similar! – snailcar May 19 '16 at 9:57
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"と申します" (to moushimasu) is a more formal way to say "と言う" (to iu), which both mean "to say". As you say "name + to moushimasu" is one way to introduce yourself.

Keep in mind while this can translate to the English phrase "I'm called ~", it doesn't literally mean that. "と呼ばれる" (to yobareru) would be a closer literal match for that, though not commonly used for introducing yourself.

Another way to introduce yourself is "name + desu", where "desu" just means "is". But the "と申します" I think is the safest option.

There are several ways to say "I think", but one of the more common ones is "と思います" (to omoimasu), which does sound a little like "to moushimasu", which maybe is why you confused the two.

  • This should be the accepted answer. – Petrus K. Mar 8 '18 at 9:10

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