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Take the following sentences:

  1. いつか願いが叶うと信じている。

  2. いつか願いが叶うのを信じている。/ いつか願いが叶うことを信じている。

I know what they mean, but I don't know if there is a practical difference between the two versions. More generally, are there times when only と or のを/ことを can be used, but not both?

  • Great question. I feel like 君ならできると信じてる! is more natural than 君ならできることを信じてる! for example, but I can’t come up with a unified explanation. – Darius Jahandarie Sep 8 at 17:53
  • @DariusJahandarie Maybe it's because in your example 君ならできることを信じてる, the こと could be interpreted not only as a nominalizer, but also as a standard noun preceded by a relative clause. Like "I believe in the things you can do". – Kaskade Sep 9 at 8:53
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+200

As a native Japanese speaker, I'd rather explain my own feeling or thoughts at the times facing of someone saying those sentences:

1) いつか願いが叶うと信じている。

He/she has "made" him/herself believe something - or he/she consiously defines his/her beliefs as such.

2) いつか願いが叶うのを信じている。/ いつか願いが叶うことを信じている。

He/she believes something.

Basically those sentences are fairly similar but I slightly sense of more consciousness on #1 than #2. Perhaps "と" makes me feel of psychological distance between subjects and objects, thus revealing existense of implied forces (i.e., will) tighten them up and turning objects into subjects (or "heartfelt voice"). On the other hand, objects on #2 are still objects.

If the verb "信じている" is changed to some other, for example "考えている", I think the distinction between two becomes clearer. I'm not sure this can be applied to "信じている" but could be understood as some inherent meanings of "信じる" has masked out grammatical differences - probably "信じる" is subjective after all.

  • 2
    So the sentence with と is more personal and subjective? And you also say that when using verbs like 考えている, the distinction would become clearer. What would that distinction between と and のを/ことを be (when using 考えている)? – Kaskade Sep 9 at 14:19
  • いつか願いが叶うと考えている this could be translated into: I have been thinking that it will eventually come true. or I am sure of ---. いつか願いが叶うことを考えている this sounds bit unnatural, but still valid, and could be interpreted as: I am thinking of the concept/consequences of (someone) getting made it. in this case "を" could be replaced with "について" – gegege Sep 10 at 9:00
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This point with ~と(certain verbs) is discussed in the N1 grammar 過去問題集 by ドリル&ドリル. There is a difference between を and と for me but I don't feel comfortable explaining it. Anyhow, I think that explaining exactly what と is doing will help a bit.

Explanation by grammar resource

The discussion is an elaboration on this sentence:

学生時代にもっと勉強しておけばよかったと今更ながら後悔している。

Although I've already graduated and it's too late now, I regret that I didn't study more as a student.

「~と後悔する」の「と」は、後ろの動詞(「後悔する」)の内容(何をどのように後悔したか)を表す引用の文(「もっと勉強しておけばよかった」)の最後につける。 例:①「学生時代の不勉強を後悔している」②「学生時代に勉強しなかったことを後悔している」③「学生時代になぜもっと勉強しなかったのだろうと後悔している」

The point of this 「と」is to provide information/context about the [thing you're doing=verb that comes after と] - what are you [verbing] and/or in what way are you [verbing] it?

If you substitute 信じる for 後悔する in the explanation from my textbook above, you get this:

「~と信じる」の「と」は、後ろの動詞(「信じる」)の内容(何をどのように信じているか)を表す引用の文(「いつか願いが叶う」)の最後につける。

  • Thanks for the answer! I did give the green check mark and the bounty to gegege (I feel like their answer was a bit closer to my question), but yours was not far away at all. – Kaskade Sep 10 at 12:16

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