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So I've been exploring the semi-new Japanese Duolingo course and came across this: 彼は今日学校に来ると思います。

I interpretted it as He thinks he (himself) will come to school today. But Duo had it as I think he will come to school today. Is either wrong?

Assuming I'm right, shouldn't 行く be the more appropriate verb? And assuming Duolingo is correct, shouldn't は be が? Is that necessary? And is the speaker at school hence 来る?

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I'm afraid there is only one interpretation for that sentence: "I, who is now at school, think that he will come to school today."

It's because of the verb 来る as you said, for one reason. But 来る・行く is not the whole reason.

息子は今日学校に行くと思います。 "I think my son will probably go to school today."

彼は今日学校に行くと思います。 This sentence still have only one interpretation: "The speaker thinks that he will go to school today."

In order to express, "He thinks that he will go to school today," it should be written as the following:

彼は今日学校に行くつもりです。

彼は今日学校に行けると思っています。

彼は今日学校に行こうと思っています。

彼は今日こそ学校に行こうと思う。

or something like that.

I would change something a little in order to avoid the ambiguity which you mentioned in this question.

If "彼" has a mental disorder and he doesn't know what he is going to do next, いyet, the subject of "彼は今日学校に行くと思います" is not "he" but someone else.

"彼は今日学校に行くと思っています” means "He thinks that he will go to school today."

In order to express your interpretation, use the present progressive tense in this context.

  • Thank you!! If I change it to 彼が今日学校に来ると思います, is there anything in particular that changes from the meaning when it had had は? – requiredandshown Aug 9 '17 at 1:46
  • 彼は今日学校に来ると思います。彼が今日学校に来ると思います。The both sentences mean the same thing. There is no particular change in the meaning. – user1118 Aug 9 '17 at 6:12
  • I feel が would be incorrect here. Personally, I find that it sounds awkard. 「君は本当に彼が学校に来ると思ってるんですか?」「彼は来ると思いますよ」? – Cong Hui Aug 9 '17 at 13:23
  • Ok. Wait now I'm confused. 君は本当に彼が学校に来ると思ってるんですか? is asking "Do you think he will really come to school today?" right? Why use present progressive 思ってる here? (instead of just 思う) – requiredandshown Aug 9 '17 at 15:22

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