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I've been thinking of this for a while and I need a bit of a clarification. For example, if I want to say "I think he is a good person", would it be:

a) 私は彼がいい人と思う  

or

b) 私は「彼はいい人」と思う

Also, if it has already been established from beforehand that I am the topic of the sentence, would it then be possible to shorten this to 彼がいい人と思う or 彼はいい人と思う (whichever one is right from the first part)?

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When you use a quotative-と, the "quote" will basically be a normal non-polite sentence. That is, you can safely use は inside the quote, and you should not drop だ. Brackets are usually not used in a simple case like this. Therefore, the correct sentence is:

私は彼いい人と思う。

The polite version is:

私は彼はいい人だと思います。

As you may already know, 私は is normally omitted, so the following is almost always more natural unless you have to emphasize "I":

彼はいい人だと思う。 / 彼はいい人だと思います。

Note that this does not mean something like "He thinks (about) a good person". See this question for the reason.


There are exceptional cases regarding と:

  • だ is sometimes dropped in informal sentences (known as だ抜き). 私は彼はいい人と思う is acceptable in a casual conversation.
  • A + を + B + と + verb is a different construction from this, and you can safely drop だ in such cases.

These are discussed in this question, but if you are a beginner, you may want to learn about them later.

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  • Thank you so much! Just for clarification, if the sentence was "He thinks I am a good person", then it would be: (彼は)私はいい人だと思っている. Is this correct?
    – Ben M
    Oct 18, 2019 at 2:56
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    @user35675 Yes that is correct, but that 彼は is probably necessary to avoid confusion. 彼は私のことをいい人だと思っている is even better.
    – naruto
    Oct 18, 2019 at 3:01

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