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漢字の辞書を買おうと思っています。

(I am going to buy a kanji dictionary) (decision already made)

from "Genki 2"

So, we use the volitional form + と思っています to talk not about spontaneous decisions but those which we have already made.

Do the sentences below mean exactly the same?

漢字の辞書を買おうと思っています。

漢字の辞書を買うつもりです。

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    Comments are not for answers. – naruto Jun 3 '19 at 11:14
  • @naruto Im not sure if that was directed at me, but I don't think I go in depth enough for this to constitute an answer? – あらまあ Jun 3 '19 at 13:42
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I feel there is a nontrivial difference.

買おうと思っている is closer to "I'm thinking of buying it". There is perhaps a 70-80% chance of buying it, but you are still thinking, and you may reconsider it later.

買うつもりだ is close to "I'm going to buy it". It means you currently have no doubts about your plan, and you will buy it unless something very unusual happens.

I know my explanation doesn't align with your textbook's translation, but this is how I feel.

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Good question. It is a bit difficult to say that they are "exactly the same" but almost the same.

Both express the persistent intention. The former is by 思っている and the latter is by the word つもり, which is derived from つもる.

Some say the latter is a bit stronger.

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Also, the decision which one to use may relate to where the the intention/plan came from.

At least if someone has recommended you should buy a kanji dictionary, and asks you afterwards if you bought it, 買うつもり would be more natural (e.g. in 買うつもりですがまだです。), as using と思います might sound like you are not giving the person the proper credit for having given you the recommendation.

On the other hand, if you e.g. tell your friend that you have an intention to buy one, and want to ask his/her opinion, 買おうと思ってます might be better (e.g. 漢字の辞書を買おうと思っていますが、アマゾンで売ってないかな。), although I guess here つもり would be quite OK, too.

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