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Several resources I've looked over define つもり as (often) being used to say "I intend to ~", such as this example sentence from Genki I:

週末にたけしさんとテニスをするつもりです。 "I intend to play tennis with Takeshi this weekend"

To say in English that you intend to do something feels both more formal in register and somewhat weaker than using the simple future "I will ~". Asking about someone's plans for the night/vacation/project/etc is something that comes up all the time, and I absolutely do not hear "I intend to do ~" under most circumstances. That said, Genki introduces this construction quite early, which makes me believe it must be more common in Japanese.

In what situations is it appropriate to say するつもり where it would not be appropriate to say します? Is this a common construction for casual conversation, or is it reserved for more polite and formal situations?

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  • 3
    But you must hear "I plan to do ..." or "I plan on doing ..." quite often.
    – aguijonazo
    Jul 4 at 2:27
  • @aguijonazo Yes, but (according to my resources) that aligns better with 予定. Either way, my question is when is つもり expected while future tense is not?
    – frog
    Jul 4 at 12:37
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週末にたけしさんとテニスをします is an affirmation that you are going to play tennis on the weekend. It is definite. Note that there is no such thing as a future tense or an auxiliary verb that would correspond to English “will” in Japanese. It’s just that the present (or non-past) affirmative form of a verb is used with an expression that can be interpreted as referring to a future time. The same sentence could be understood as describing what you do every weekend.

週末にたけしさんとテニスをするつもりです is more like saying you are planning on playing tennis with Takeshi on the weekend. It is possible that you haven’t even talked to Takeshi about it. It is only your intention and you know it might not happen as you plan. Depending on the context, you could sound like you are deliberately avoiding commitment.

週末にたけしさんとテニスをする予定です sounds more definite. It is likely that playing tennis with Takeshi is already scheduled for the weekend.

The three sentences above are all neutral in register.

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  • Thanks for your response. So if I understand correctly, する and する予定 are stronger and more definite, while するつもり is more like an idea you're considering but haven't acted on?
    – frog
    Jul 4 at 15:05
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    @frog: するつもりです is not so different from する予定です as it is from します, but, yes, it’s less definite and the plan is less concrete. It could even be translated as “I am thinking of doing …”
    – aguijonazo
    Jul 4 at 16:01
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"~するつもり(だ/です)" is used in everywhere, no matter if it's polite or casual. The only exception is when you're talking to your boss / superior person, in that case you will be using "~する予定です".

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