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'と思います' is usually used when saying what you think/your assumptions, that much I know, but is it possible to alter it so that you can say what others are thinking? For an example, how would you say, 'Mary thinks the stars are beautiful'?

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    Just precise the subject : "Hoshi ga kirei da to Mary ga omotte imasu"
    – Chewie
    Feb 26, 2018 at 11:39

1 Answer 1

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Japanese is a language in which expressing others' feelings, thoughts, desires, etc. is done considerably more discreetly than expressing one's own.

It is 100% natural to say:

「私{わたし}は、星{ほし}はきれいだと思{おも}います。」

but it is not natural at all for a native speaker to say:

「田中{たなか}さんは、星はきれいだと思います。」

even if Tanaka has directly told the speaker that he (Tanaka) thinks that the stars are beautiful.

「思います」 is reserved for the speaker/writer; You cannot use it when the subject of the verb is another person. The same principle is applicable to other words like 「ほしい」、「したい」、「怖{こわ}い」, etc.

One could say instead:

「田中さんは、星はきれいだと思っています。」

If Tanaka has directly told you so. And you might say:

「田中さんは、星はきれいだと思っているようです。」

if the information has been obtained via a third person.

All this might sound strange to you, but you will need to get used to the idea. As a Japanese-speaker, I felt very strange, too, when encountering a sentence like "My father thinks I am crazy." in my English textbook a few years ago in junior high school and so did just about all of my classmates because that sentence made very little sense to us.

You might want to read:

When to use 欲しがる instead of 欲しい

Translation of 泳ぎたがっている

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  • is Garu used only for ほしい and たい? 思ってがってるis incorrect? Feb 26, 2018 at 16:32
  • just correcting myself, I actually know that you can use garu with many things, but can I use it with 思う? Feb 26, 2018 at 16:37
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    I would recommend that you ask this question separately as a new post.
    – BJCUAI
    Feb 26, 2018 at 17:27
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    ん? なんかサラっとサバ読んだ? a few decades ago の間違いじ((殴
    – Chocolate
    Feb 27, 2018 at 0:02
  • What is it about 田中さんは、星はきれいだと思っています that makes it any more appropriate than saying 田中さんは、星はきれいだと思います? I understand why the later doesn't work (and you explained it well). I don't understand why 思っています is acceptable. It seems to me equally presumptuous.
    – A.Ellett
    Aug 30, 2021 at 1:21

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