How to Use と思います(To Omoimasu) in Japanese

と思います (to omoimasu) means “I think” in Japanese.

It is widely used in both casual and formal situations to express opinions and predictions. It also used to make some expressions sound more polite and nicer.

How to Use と思います (To Omoimasu): An Brief Introduction

と思います (to omoimasu) is the polite form of と思う (to omou): the former can be used with strangers and in situations that require formal language, while the latter can be used with family and friends.

Negative Form: 思いません (Omoimasen)

We use omou in the negative form to say “I don’t think (that).” 

  • Negative Plain Form: 思わない (omowanai)
  • Negative Polite Form: 思いません (omoimasen)

Past Tense Form: 思いませんでした (Omoimasen Deshita)

To say “I thought (that),” change the present tense into the past tense form or the negative past tense form

  • Past Plain Form: 思った (omotta)
  • Past Polite Form: 思いました (omoimashita)
  • Negative Past Tense Form: 思わなかった (omowanakatta): I didn’t think that.
  • Negative Past Tense Polite Form: 思いませんでした (omoimasen deshita): I didn’t think that.

What about the particle と (to)?  is used before verbs such as 思う(omou:  to think), 言う (iu:  to say), 聞く(kiku:  to ask), and it introduces a clause or a quotation. Think of as the Japanese equivalent of “that.”

Verbs, nouns, and adjectives can all be followed by “to omoimasu.”

Using “To Omoimasu” With Verbs

For verbs, use the plain form (both affirmative and negative) and add と思います.


1. 明日は行くと思います。
(Ashita wa iku to omoimasu.)
I think I’ll go tomorrow.

2. 午後から雨が降ると思う。傘を忘れないでね!
(Gogo kara ame ga furu to omou. Kasa o wasurenaide ne!)
I think it’s going to rain this afternoon. Don’t forget an umbrella!

Using “To Omoimasu” With Nouns

For nouns, remember that we have to insert the copula だ (da) or ではない(dewa nai) for the negative form between the noun and と思います.


1. それは彼女の鞄と思います。
(Sore wa kanojo no kaban da to omoimasu.)
I think that that is her bag.

2. この料理は日本料理の伝統的なものと思います。
(Kono ryōri wa nihon ryōri no dentōteki na mono da to omoimasu.)
I think this is a traditional Japanese dish.

Using “To Omoimasu” With Adjectives (I and Na-Adjectives)

I-adjectives are followed by と思います (to omoimasu), while na-adjectives require the copula だ (da) + to omoimasu, just like nouns.


1. 今日のランチはとてもおいしいと思う。
(Kyō no ranchi wa totemo oishī to omou)
I think today’s lunch is going to be very good.

2. 彼は英語が上手だと思う。
(Kare wa eigo ga jōzu da to omou.)
I think he is good at English. 

3. 彼がそんなことをするなんて思わない。
(Kare ga sonna koto o suru nante omowanai.)
I don’t think he would be capable of doing something like that.

The Nuance of To Omoimasu

と思います (to omoimasu) is not only used to say “I think,” but it is also commonly added at the end of a sentence in casual and formal situations to express a statement more politely and humbly, which is typical of the Japanese language. 


1. 昇進したいならもっと真面目に仕事をした方がいいと思います。
(Shōshin shitainara motto majime ni shigoto o shita hōga ii to omoimasu.)
If you want to get promoted, you should work more seriously.

2. そのネクタイはあまり似合わないと思う。
(Sono nekutai wa amari niawanai to omoimasu.)
I think that tie doesn’t look good on you.

5 Useful Grammar Patterns Using “To Omoimasu” 

Here are some of the common patterns using to omoimasu. All of these patterns are very useful and you’ll probably use them quite often when speaking to native Japanese speakers. So be sure to remember all of them to bring your Japanese to the next level!

1. ~ようと思う (~ Yō To Omou): I Think I’ll ~

We use yō to omou to talk about intentions and plans we are thinking of doing. The verb is in the volitional form, followed by to omou.


1. 新しい日本料理の本を買おうと思う。
(Atarashii Nihon ryōri no hon o kaō to omou.)
I think I’ll buy a new book about Japanese cuisine.

2. キャンプに行こうと思います。
(Kyanpu ni ikō to omoimasu.)
I think I’m going to go camping.

2. ~ようと思っている(~ Yō To Omotteiru): I’m Thinking Of Doing ~

The progressive form of to omou, to 思っている (omotteiru), meaning “I am thinking,” implies that the speaker has been thinking about doing something for a while. It could also mean, “I have been thinking of doing~.  


1. 中国語の勉強を始めようと思っている。
(Chūgokugo no benkyō o hajimeyō to omotteiru.)
I’m thinking about starting to study Chinese.

2. かなり前から、転職をしようと思っています。
(Kanari mae kara, tenshoku o shiyō to omotteimasu.)
I have been thinking about changing jobs for a while.

3. ~ようと思っていた(~ Yō To Omotteita): I Was Thinking Of ~

This pattern is very similar to the one above. Instead of using 思っている (omotteiru), the tense is changed to 思っていた (omotteita). This gives us the nuance of “I was thinking of doing~.” 


1. 休みを取ろうと思っていたけど、仕事がまだ山ほど残っているからやっぱり無理だ。
(Yasumi o torō to omotteita kedo, shigota ga mada yamahodo nokotteiru kara, yappari muri da.)
I was thinking of taking some time off, but I still have so much work left that it’s impossible.  

2. さっきまで寿司を食べようと思っていたけど、あのマックのCM*の影響でハンバーガーを食べたくなってきた。
(Sakki made sushi o tabeyō to omotteita kedo, ano Makku no CM* no eikyō de hanbāgā o tabetaku natte kita.)
I was thinking of eating sushi a little while ago, but after watching that McDonald’s commercial, I want to eat a hamburger now.  

*Note: マック (Makku) is the abbreviation for マクドナルド (Makudonarudo) or McDonald’s in English.  CM stands for “commercial message” in Japan. Anytime you see the words CM in Japan, it usually means a tv commercial. 

4.  ~たいとおもう (~ Tai To Omou)

You might already be familiar with the たい (tai) form of a verb used to express desire. Adding と思う (to omou) after the tai form gives the sentence a softer tone, making it more polite and less direct than tai.  It is often used in formal settings with the meaning of “I would like to.”


1. 早速ミーティングを始めたいと思います。
(Sassoku mītingu o hajimetai to omoimasu.)
I would like to start the meeting straight away.

2. 新しい方針についてお話させていただきたいと思います。
(Atarashii hōshin ni tsuite ohanashi sasete itadakitai to omoimasu.)
I would like to speak to you about the new policies.

5. ~かなと思います(Ka Na To Omoimasu)

かな (ka na) at the end of a sentence is used to express uncertainty or doubt. Adding ka na to omoimasu, just like the previous patterns, makes the statement less definitive and less straightforward. It is very commonly used when expressing an opinion or giving advice (especially in formal environments) as a way of being more humble.


1. その商品は人気があるらしくて、予約した方がいいんじゃないかなと思います。
(Sono shōhin wa ninki ga aru rashikute, yoyaku shita hō ga iin ja nai ka na to omoimasu.)
That product seems to be popular, so wouldn’t it be better if you put in an advance order for it? (I think that it would be a good idea if you did.)

2. 発音に気を付けたら英会話がもっと上手になるかなと思います。
(Hatsuon ni ki o tsuketara eikaiwa ga motto jōzu ni naru ka na to omoimasu.)
If you pay attention to your pronunciation, your English conversation skill will get much better.

So, have you grasped the basics of to omoimasu? Add it to your sentences to express your thoughts with friends or to sound more polite with your boss!

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Margherita Pitorri

Margherita discovered Japan at 17, decided to study Japanese at university and has been chasing the Land of the Rising Sun since then. Kanji lover, nature enthusiast, and conbini ice cream connoisseur, she is currently discovering Tokyo neighborhood by neighborhood.

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