This is a question in my JLPT practise book:


A もの B わけ C つもり D はず

None of the answers made sense to me, so I didn't even choose one.

The book says the answer is C. I didn't choose that one because it seems to be saying, "if you intend to die, you might make it."

I get that there could be a metaphorical meaning here, something like "try so hard you might die", but I'm still having trouble parsing the sentence so that it conveys the sense of "as if". I'm just not used to seeing つもり used in a hypothetical way.

What would be an accurate translation of this sentence, and does つもり have a broader meaning than just, "intend to"?

Bonus question: Is 死{し}んだつもり the same as saying 必死{ひっし}?

  • 死ぬつもり is kind of like (死ぬ)覚悟 and sound like exaggerations that you see in samurai movies (except there they are not exaggerations). But it seems like they are often used without necessarily implying humor, like when you are preparing for a big event like a test or a competition, even though it is very unlikely you would die. So it seems to specify a level of effort.
    – jlptnone
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 8:02
  • @Questioner: And what is the full meaning of the question? "Maybe even if you are late, but work extremely hard, you can still make it in time"? Just asking, 'cause I have not the book, but find your question interesting, and wanted to know the full meaning. Thanks!
    – Quit007
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 14:03
  • @Quit007, sorry, I'd like to help, but I don't understand what information you are looking for.
    – Questioner
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 8:18
  • @Questioner just a full translation of the sentence asked by you.
    – Quit007
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 8:00

2 Answers 2


goo.ne.jp's definition for つもり is:

  1. An intention (of doing)
  2. Expectation, plans
  3. そうなった気持ち which I might translate to "the feeling as if (something) has become that way."

I believe some more natural translations for definition 3 might be:

  • As if you think.../As if someone thinks...
  • I think.../I feel as if...

Some examples:

"Work as if (you think) you'll die."

"It's as if he thinks he's a singer."

"I think I understand."

See also: the different usages of つもり?

  • Btw just to clear up some confusion, is it true that "つもり" is strictly referring to the speaker's feeling? For example is it right to say that, "あれで歌手のつもりだ" equals "I have in mind (feel) that he thinks he's a singer" ?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 11:27
  • @Pacerier: つもり is one of those hazy points I'm still not 100% about. I think it can refer to either the speaker or the person who's being talked about, in that case the other person who thinks he's a singer. From the way I'm currently interpreting it, つもり can mean "[I have/Somebody has] a mindset [to do/of thinking] (something)" or "[I am/Somebody is] of a mindset of having already [become/done] (something)" depending on the context.
    – cypher
    Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 5:29

死んだつもりになって is a set expression that means to frantically 頑張る (and maybe even with reckless abandon and power). If my understanding is correct, it has a really great flavor. I wouldn't say it's interchangeable with 必死に, but I think it's safe to say they have similar nuances.

Sources (girlfriend and Weblio)--> その例文はな。。。もう今からしても遅いかもやけど、死に物狂いになって頑張れば大丈夫かも、です。笑 (^_^)

類語 from Weblio >> 捨て身でかかる ・ 死んだつもりになって~ ・ クソ度胸で~ ・ 火事場のバカ力で~

  • 1
    @DaveMG "I'd mark this as correct if you removed your girlfriend as a source". I find this rather illogical. The correctness of something is independent of its source. The source may give a clue towards its reliability (reliability ≠ correctness). If anything it would be better for "girlfriend" to be listed as a source since it provides a consideration factor for reliability.
    – Flaw
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 3:14
  • 1
    @DaveMG I recognize that it is your personal preference for the type of answer. I have no issue with that. But just to think out the rest of logic, consider the difference in reliability and correctness (if any) if [1] the SE account owner paraphrased what the girlfriend said. [2] the account owner typed what the girlfriend said word for word. [3] it was the girlfriend who typed out that part of the answer instead of the SE account owner himself. Or [4] if the girlfriend made a separate SE account and gave that answer. The logic of "proxy authority is undesirable" doesn't hold very strongly.
    – Flaw
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 4:49

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