I came across the following sentence on HelloTalk, and can't figure out what the second after 思ってた is doing.


I can see when using a translator that it translates to "A person I thought was a good person...", but I can't break down how.

When I searched for other sentences using just the latter (e.g., ここまでだと思ってた人は意外と少ないんじゃないでしょうか which translates to "Surprisingly few people thought it would go this far"), it makes a bit more sense, but it further confuses the previous statement for me.

Can someone explain what's going on here? Is it a fixed expression? Or is there a particle omitted or a some other rule in place here that I'm unfamiliar with?

2 Answers 2


So this is just a case of a subclause being used to modify a noun in a larger sentence.

When you place a clause with a verb in front of a noun, that clause modifies that noun (similar to using "which" or "that" in English), so for example:

りんごを食べた -- "(I) ate an apple"
りんごを食べた人 -- "a person (人) who ate an apple (りんごを食べた)"

The same thing is happening in your sentence:

いい人だなって思ってた -- "(I) had thought (he/she) was a good person"
いい人だなって思ってた人 -- "a person (人) who I had thought was a good person (いい人だなって思ってた)"

Though it should be noted that since there are no explicit subjects/objects here, it could theoretically also be interpreted to mean something like "a person who thinks (someone else) is a good person", so you may need to look at the larger context to know which meaning it actually has (in the case of your full sentence, it seems pretty clear it probably means "someone (I/you) had thought was a good person", though).


This has nothing to do with fixed set phrases. 思う is one of the verbs that can take three arguments in the form AはBをC(だ)とverb. AはBをCだと思う means "A thinks of B as C". If you have this in mind, you can get the original noun phrase by applying the basic rules of relative clauses.

  • その人いい人だな思う。
    I think of that person as a good person.
  • 私はその人をいい人だなと思ってた。
    I had thought of that person as a good person.
  • いい人だなと思ってた
    a person who I had thought of as a good person
    (pulled out the を-marked argument, changed は to が)
  • いい人だなって思ってた人
    a person who I had thought of as a good person
    (omitted the subject, replaced と with って)

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