I've looked around the site for anything related but i couldn't find any clues.

My take at it is that using the volitional form with と思う you're expressing your plans in the near future as in


you think you'll take your medicine then fall asleep probably said on the same day or even a few hours before doing the action.

whereas volitional form + と思っている you're expressing your plans probably a few years in the future


you're thinking about taking on the challenge of a full marathon next year and probably saying that you've been thinking of taking on the challenge is correct too because you're still thinking, probably haven't even started preparing for it or probably even still considering it?

I'm not really sure about this, it's just a speculation, is part of what i said correct?

  • 1
    ~ようと思っている is like "have been planning/intending to do" and is not used for something you decide now or you've just decided, while ~ようと思う can be used for both something you've just decided and something you've been planning to do for a while. eg 「どうしますか?」--「そうですね・・じゃ、一回だけ行ってみようと思います。/行ってみます。(not 行ってみようと思っています。/行ってみるつもりです。)」
    – chocolate
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 23:18
  • ようと思う can be used for both something you've just decided and something you've been planning to do for a while, then is it safe to always use this form to talk about one's plans? (with first person pronouns of course).
    – Moune
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 0:31
  • 1
    It would work in most cases but ようと思っている is more commonly used for "have been planning to~", and in some contexts it's more natural / suitable than ようと思う, for example when used together with phrases like 「しばらく前から」「こないだ(このあいだ)から」「あれ以来」「最近」etc., eg 「しばらく前から、留学しようと/したいと思っているんですが・・・」(not しばらく前から、留学しようと/したいと思うんですが・・・)
    – chocolate
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 0:52
  • I see, thank you for the explanation, i think i got the gist of it :)
    – Moune
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


In my understanding...

  • ...しようと思う

"I think I will...", "I'll probably..." (not fully decided, 予想している)

  • しようと思っている

"I'm thinking of...", "I'm planning to..." (more-or-less decided, 仮に計画している)


  • I think I'll study overseas.


  • I'm thinking of studying overseas.
  • Does it mean that the only difference is the degree of decisiveness and not the time in which the action will be done?
    – Moune
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 17:51
  • That is my understanding, yes.
    – sazarando
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 2:48

What you said seems to agree with this page :


  • (1) あしたは早く起きようと思います。

2 意志を一定期間持ち続けている場合は、「と思っています」を使います。

  • (2) 夏休みに旅行しようと思っています。
  • (3) 木村さんは留学しようと思っています。
  • 起きようと思います。 -- is just about right now.

  • しようと思っています。 -- is something that has been on the speaker's mind (or someone else's mind) for a while.

[ あの本を読もうと思いますか? ] is bad, according to a textbook ~おうと思う not allowed to be used as a question

But this same page from coelang.tufs.ac.jp seems to say it's ok.

(4) 木村さんは留学しようと思いますか。

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