I've been looking for this on the web but can't find my specific doubt.

I just read the Genki 2 chapter about volitional + と思っています to say you are planning on doing something. The book is pretty clear that this grammar can be used ONLY to express our own opinions or intentions and not other's.

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But right after the lesson, the first exercise says: "Describe what each person is planning to do" and the example follows:


The book just said is used for our own intentions but then the example is trying to tell us that another person is intending to do as if we know other person intention.

So, can this grammar be used to express other people's intention? Thank you beforehand.


  • 3
    Did Genki definitely say that volitional + と思っています can only be used for your own opinions, or did it say volitional + と思います? May 5, 2019 at 8:45
  • 1
    Quote from Genki 2 page 79: "We use the volitional + と思っています to talk about our determinations." Then a bit lower on the page: "...と思っています, in contrast (of と思う), tend to suggest that you have already decided to do something." and then a bit lower: "When you use volitionals, you are talking about your intentions. When you use the present tense, you are talking about your predictions" And all the examples are expressing "my own" intentions, is only when we go to the exercises that they start using other people's intention.
    – Koutta
    May 5, 2019 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (Seiichi Makinko and Michio Tsutsui) has this to say on the subject:

When the subject is not the first person, the nonpast form of 思う cannot be used. ... The reason why this is unacceptable is that 思う represents an internal feeling of the speaker alone. Therefore, when the subject is the third person, 思う has to be replaced by the stative 思っている which means ' he (= the third person subject) has indicated that he feels ~, in such a way that the speaker can see and/or hear what he feels'


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