498 - つもりだ (intend to)

Consider the different nuances of the following sentences:

- I'm planning to buy a car next month.
- I'm thinking about buying a car next month.
- I'm going to buy a car next month.
- I'd like to buy a car next month.
- I'm hoping to buy a car next month.
- I'll probably buy a car next month.
- I might buy a car next month.
- I thought about buying a car next month.

Talking about our intentions for the future is tricky business, since the future is a slippery, ever-changing concept in our minds. Accordingly, we have many different sentence structures to compensate for this.

Japanese is no different.

I could try to list translations for all of the sentences above, but I think that'd make for quite an overwhelming lesson... for me to write. Maybe at the end of our JLPT journey, I'll make more nuance-focused lessons. Something to think about.

Today, we're looking at the Japanese approximation of, "I'm planning to buy a car next month" or "I intend to buy a car next month."

That would be...

JLPT N4: つもりだ (intend to; plan to)

The quick version: Take a verb, then attach つもり(だ) to it, and your sentence will mean "intend to VERB" or "planning to VERB."

The long version: [This entire lesson].

Here's our first example:

らいねん こども が うまれる ので、 ちかぢか くるま を かう つもり です。
The baby is going to be born next year, so I’m planning to buy a car soon.
Literally: “next year + child + が + have (a child) be born + ので (=because), + soon / before long + car + を + buy + つもり + です.”

Here our VERB is 買う (かう // to buy). Since we want to say "planning to buy" or "intend to buy," we say 買うつもり (かうつもり).

As is often the case, つもり in this sentence is paired with です. But we can also have:

~つもり (intend to ~; planning to ~)
~つもり (intend to ~; planning to ~)
~つもりだった (intended to ~; was planning to ~)
~つもりです (intend to ~; planning to ~)
~つもりでした (intended to ~; was planning to ~)

That first one in the list is to show that sometimes we will say nothing after つもり, particularly in casual situations.

And we'll even have a bonus sentence at the end of this lesson with ~つもりはありません (don't intend to~). But don't worry about that until the end!

So what comes before つもり, then?

This one's pretty simple, thankfully. We'll just have a dictionary form VERB (=Vる) or a plain, present, negative VERB (=Vない). Like this:

V る つもり(だ)

V ない つもり(だ)

いく つもり
intend to go; plan to go
Literally: “go + つもり"

かう つもり
intend to buy; plan to buy
Literally: “buy + つもり"

かえる つもり
intend to go home; plan to go home
Literally: “go home / return + つもり"

りゅうがく する つもり
intend to study abroad; plan to study abroad
Literally: “study abroad + do + つもり"

てばなす つもり
intend to part with (someone); plan to let go of
Literally: “part with (someone) / let go of + つもり"

さんか しない つもり
don't intend to participate; plan to not join
Literally: “participation + don’t do + つもり"

いわない つもり
don't intend to say; plan to not say
Literally: “don’t say + つもり"

Long list, yeah? Sorry. _(-_-)_

Let's get to the examples...

So, we've already established that we use つもり to state our plans or intentions for the future.

But how far in the future?

Well, you can use it when talking about intentions for the distant future, near future, somewhat-distant future, etc. But you should not use it when talking about the immediate future.

What I mean is that you CAN say:

おじいちゃん に なったら、 せかい いっしゅう する つもり。
When I become an old man, I'm planning to travel around the world.
Literally: “old man + に + when became, + round-the-world-trip + do + つもり.”

...even if you're still a teenager, because it's OK to use つもり for plans in the distant future.

But you CANNOT use つもり for something you plan to do right now:

✕ 今からこのコーヒーを飲むつもりです。
✕ いま から この コーヒー を のむ つもり です。
✕ I’m planning to drink this coffee right now.
✕ Literally: “now + from + this + coffee + を + drink + つもり + です.”

However, we don't need to go too far into the future with our つもり intentions. We can even use it when talking about, say, tomorrow:

あした は なんじ ごろ に いえ を でる つもり ですか。
Around what time do you plan to leave the house tomorrow?
Literally: “tomorrow + は + what time + about / around + に + house + を + leave / go out of + つもり + ですか.”

Also worth noting in this sentence is that we can use つもり in questions. However, if you're a real master of politeness and formality, you might want to avoid using つもり in questions to bosses, teachers, etc.

What if we were planning to do something, but our plans changed?

We can still use つもり in such sentences, but it will be followed by だった or でした:

しゅうまつ は サーフィン に いく つもり だった けど、 たいふう が ちかづいていて むり そうだ。
I was planning to go surfing this weekend, but there’s a typhoon coming, so it looks like I won’t be able to.
Literally: “weekend + は + surfing + に + go + つもり + だった (=was) + けど (=but), + typhoon + が + is approaching (and) + impossible + そう (=seems) + だ.”

We must use hearsay markers with つもり when talking about the intentions of others. This is because we can only report on the intentions of others; we cannot assert for others what their intentions are.

That is, we use grammar constructions like ~らしい and ~だそうだ when saying that we heard about the plans or intentions of others.

(If you don't know how to use ~らしい and ~だそうだ just yet, no worries. We'll get there).


おうさん は もうすぐ ちゅうごく に かえる つもり らしい。
Apparently O-san is planning to move back to China soon. // I heard that O-san intends to move back to China soon.
Literally: “O-san + は + soon + China + に + go home / return + つもり + らしい (=[hearsay marker]).”

おばあちゃん と おじいちゃん は じゅうにがつ から いちねんかん、 ベルリン へ りゅうがく する つもり だそう だ。
Apparently my grandma and grandpa are planning to go to Berlin in December to study abroad for a year. // My grandma and grandpa said that they’replanning to go to Berlin in December to study abroad for a year.
Literally: “grandma + と + grandpa + は + December + from + one year (period), + Berlin + へ + study abroad + do + つもり + だ + そう (=[hearsay marker]) + だ.”

What about when we want to say that we intend to NOT do something?

In that case, we can use Vない before つもり:

かいしゃ の しんねんかい に は さんか しない つもり です。
I won’t be going to the company New Year’s party. // I don’t intend to go to the company New Year’s party.
Literally: “company + の + New Year’s party / beginning of year party + には + participation + don’t do + つもり + です.”
Note: A 新年会 is NOT a New Year's Eve party. It's a party in January to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

しんぱい を かけたくない ので、 わたし の びょうき の こと は だれ に も いわない つもり です。
I don’t want to worry anyone, so I’m planning to not tell anyone that I’m sick.
Literally: “worry + を + don’t want to put on + ので (=because), + I + の + sickness + の + こと + は + to nobody (=who + にも) + don’t say + つもり + です.”
Note: The nuance is that the speaker has a serious illness that he or she does not intend to inform others about.

An even stronger way to state your lack of intentions to do something is to use ~つもりはありません, as in the following sentence:

なに が あっても あいけん を てばなす つもり は ありません。
No matter what happens, I don’t intend to ever part with my (beloved) dog.
Literally: “what + が + even if there was / even if happened + beloved dog + を + part with (someone) / let go of + つもり + は + ありません (=don’t have / there is not).”

We looked at a lot of sentences in this one, but if you take your time with the breakdowns, I think you'll see that this grammar form is not too complex.

Also, it's highly useful, so let's do our best to learn it, then try to use it in a real-life conversation, maybe in a lesson or a language exchange.

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