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Here is a sentence that I came across in Yotsuba, 恵那が結婚して出て行く時に使おうと思ってたんだ. I believe the English translation would be something like, "When Ena (恵那) gets married and leaves, I think I'll use this. I know that と思って means that something has been thought of for some duration but what does the たんだ stand for? I believe んだ is the connective copula for explanatory purposes. So the translation would be something like "It is that, I think I will use this when Ena goes off and gets married." But why is た used? Is this acting as something for past tense or is it needed to connect んだ somehow? Could it mean, "I had thought"?

Any help would be appreciated. I'm starting to notice these types of past tense uses more but still can't 100% wrap my head around them.

  • It is another way of saying と思っていましたのです. 思ってた is the colloquial form of 思っていました. In decreasing order of politeness 思っていました -> 思っていた -> 思ってた. Similarly, のです -> んです -> んだ. – vadasambar Aug 14 at 2:03
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    Slight tangent, but I thought of the song 'CHE.R.RY' when I read this:) Plenty of examples of ~んだ and ~ったんだ in the song if OP wants to get accustomed to hearing it. – BJCUAI Aug 14 at 2:09
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思ってたんだ is a progressive-past form followed by explanatory-の. So it translates to "(It is that) I was thinking ~". Here's the breakdown:

  • 思う: to think
  • 思っている: to be thinking (progressive)
  • 思っていた: was thinking (past progressive)
  • 思ってた: was thinking (ている → てる, ていた → てた; see this chart)
  • 思ってたんだ: 思ってた + explanatory-no + copula

使おうと思ってたんだ。
I was thinking I would use this.

In non-casual settings, 思ってたんだ should be 思ってだ or 思ってです.

  • Love the progressive (no pun intended) build up of verb form here. I wish there was an app or something that’d do that for every unfamiliar verb form I see... – rickster Aug 14 at 17:44
  • @rickster On Android, Jsho does a decent job of this, with toggles for polite, negative, past, kanji/kana, romaji/kana, but it doesn't do the explanatory part. – briantist Aug 14 at 19:39
  • The Japanese dictionary app on iOS shows a bunch of conjugations, too. Which is pretty handy, just not as awesome as @naruto ‘s breakdown of verb-form combinatorics. – rickster Aug 15 at 0:01

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