2005
11.14

Tsumori

I understand the following sentence:

理解できるようになった。

But I was suprised to hear this sentence:

理解できるようになったつもり。

I presume from the context that it means the same as the first sentence but I wondered whether there was any nuance?

The つもり I have learnt is normally used for ‘intention’ after having made a decision, e.g. 「あのラケットを買うつもりだ。」.

Actually, I’ve heard a similarly confusing sentence before. It went like this:

分かってるつもり

Can anyone clear this up for me? Is this new grammar or simply a type of style of speech?



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  1. That is your intention but it might not be the case. (You might be mistaken)
    For instance,
    A: ドアをちゃんと閉めた?
    B: 閉めたつもりなんだけど。
    B had the intention of closing the door but he’s not sure whether it’s actually closed. (He might have forgotten or it might have been opened after by something else)

  2. Hey again, from your other English reader!
    Can’t really add too much to Tae Kim’s explanation, just a helpful passage i found in Jay Rubin’s Making Sense of Japanese (well, somedays I like to think I have a chance!) that it’s better to think of “tsumori” as conviction, and a “たつもり” construction as defending your conviction in the face of evdence to the contrary..
    Like in Tae Kim’s example above, maybe he’s looking at the open door and saying “I’m sure I closed it but..”
    So your eg sentence 理解できるようになったつもりcould mean (I think) “I thought I’d got my head around that but… (I still didn’t get it).
    Wave hello to England for me!

  3. Ah… great explanations. Thank you so much. With this in mind I’ll listen out for this in future. Thanks again.

  4. Ok, I’ve heard something simlar again and the explanations I’ve heard don’t quite match.
    「よく知ってるつもりだよ。」
    In this example, or in 分かってるつもり, there is no past tense as such, so how can it be that ‘I thought I knew/understood but…’?
    The feeling I get from this kind of example is that the speaker is just emphasising the feeling of understanding or knowing, while there is no ‘but’ hidden in the sentence.
    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  5. Yeah you’re right, Darren. The feeling of よく知ってるつもり is emphasising or showing you’re confident.(but not completely confident – including a little bit of future excuse in case you’re wrong.)
    But depending on how strong you say that, that could mean you are protecting yourself as you’re actually not sure..
    like 「よく知ってるつもりだよ!!」
    強がり – do you know what this means?
    Sorry my English and explanation might not be enough to convince you all, but the feeling varies depending on how you express.

  6. Thanks Masato. Actually, I had a long conversation with my language exchange partner yesterday about this topic and I think I understand this type of sentence better than before.
    As you have told me, it leaves room for a kind of excuse – in that, it’s a personal opinion/thought, something which is perhaps not 100% confirmed.
    In other words, in can be like と思う, where the speaker is saying what he/she believes to be true.

  7. That’s absolutely right, better than my explanation.
    You can call me at any time, and ask questions till the exam finishes.
    Don’t think too much about tennis or eBay while studying!

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