Table of Contents
- The Basics
- Beyond the Basics
つもり indicates that you've made up your mind about what you're going to do, or be. So if you are planning, or intended to do, some cleaning today, you can use つもり and say:
- Today, I'm planning to do some cleaning.
The key point to remember with つもり is that it denotes you made the decision to do something a while ago. If your decision is made on the spot, you don't use つもり.
つもり marks either short-term or long-term plans, and it can also be used to indicate something that's difficult to attain. For example, if you have a dream to be an illustrator someday, you can also use つもり and say:
- I'm committed to being an illustrator one day.
In this situation, though, つもり suggests that you not only want to be an illustrator but are also determined to make it happen.
Getting the gist of what つもり really does?
- You're committed to becoming an illustrator!?
And if you're talking about the intentions of someone who isn't present, you'll generally need to add another word to indicate that it's about the third person, such as らしい (I heard that…).
- I heard he's committed to becoming an illustrator.
Now that you know what つもり is used for, let's talk about how it functions grammatically.
Patterns of Use
When it comes to how つもり functions, the first thing you should know is that つもり is technically a noun. We could maybe say the noun for "intention," though you don't really see つもり used in standalone situations. It needs a "helper" to explain what kind of intention you have, so you'd be attaching information to clarify that to つもり. To do that, you'd use a relative clause. You'll get a better idea of how that works as we break it down in the next section.
Verb + つもり
Most commonly, つもり is attached to a verb. That's because つもり is often used to express the intention to do something.
For example, your colleague asks what you're going to eat for lunch. If your plan is to eat ramen, you can use つもり and say:
- I'm planning to eat ramen.
(Literally: I have the intention of eating ramen.)
See how simple it is? You just put ラーメンを食べる (I eat ramen) right before つもり. This is a "relative clause," and it is similar to the English way of modifying a noun — in this case, "the intention of eating ramen" — and to express all kinds of intentions, you can use different ending verb forms.
For example, if you believed you ate ramen but it turned out to be just a dream, you can change the ending verb to the past tense and say, [ラーメンを食べた] つもり. We'll explore this use in more detail later.
It's worth noting that the ending verb only takes the plain form. In the above example, it would sound strange if you conjugated 食べる into the polite ます form, as in:
- ⭕ ラーメンを食べるつもりです。
- I'm planning to eat ramen.
Double politeness is a common blunder, so be cautious!
Noun + の + つもり
You can also use つもり with another noun. In this case, you'll need to add the particle の between the two to modify them.
Consider this scenario: you draw a tent, but when you show it to someone, they ask, "Oh, is that a sailboat?" To indicate that you meant for it to be a tent, add 〜のつもり to テント (tent) and say:
- Oh, I intended it to be a tent.
In this example, の comes between the nouns テント and つもり, modifying テント with つもり. Make sense? Good!
な-adjective + つもり
You can also use な-adjectives with つもり to express the way you intended things to be. For example, you got sick the other day. But today, you decided that you are feeling well enough to see your friend. Shortly after you get to your friend's place, you start feeling unwell. To your concerned friend, you may say:
- Sorry, I thought I was okay today.
Again, in sentences, つもり acts like a noun. So when you attach a な-adjective to つもり, you need the な to glue them together. In this example, the な-adjective 大丈夫 has な at the end to connect it to つもり.
い-adjective + つもり
Unlike な-adjectives, い-adjectives describe nouns as-is, so they can attach directly to つもり.
Take the following scenario for example: your brother is a wanna-be-comedian, but his jokes aren't really good. He asks you for your honest opinion, so you don't hold back, saying, "Is that supposed to be funny?" To construct this harsh question, you just add つもり to おもしろい (funny):
- Is that supposed to be funny?
Demonstrative Word + つもり
そのつもり is generally used when confirming you plan to do or be something. To bring back a previous example, your coworker asks if you want to be an illustrator. You can respond with:
- That's what I'm aiming for.
Here, その refers to your colleague's question, and つもり shows that this is indeed your aspiration.
そんなつもり, on the other hand, is commonly used to refute your intention to do something. For example, if you said something to a coworker and they took it personally, you can apologize by saying:
- I'm sorry. I didn't intend to come off like that.
〜ないつもり For Something You Intend Not to Do or Be
When つもり follows a clause in the negative form ending with 〜ない, it indicates that you are planning not to do something.
Imagine you live outside of your home country and your parents ask if you're coming home this year. However, you're too busy and have decided not to visit this year. To say that, you can use 〜ないつもり and say:
- I'm planning on not visiting this year.
Let's look at another example. This time, it's a quote by Hanayo Koizumi from the anime Love Live!. Hanayo is very enthusiastic about idols and wants to be one as well. When she tries to join an idol band, she says:
- My passion for idols is second to none!
負ける means "to be defeated," so 負けないつもり indicates that she is determined not to be defeated in her pursuit for idols. It gives her speech more conviction, demonstrating that she is certain of what she believes and says.
〜つもりだった For Something You Intended but Failed to Do or Be
When つもり is used in the past tense, as in つもりだった, you can express something you intended to do but couldn't.
For example, imagine you are in a serious relationship with someone and are considering marrying them. However, something happened that changed your mind. When you start talking about ending the relationship, your partner blames you, saying, "you told me you were going to marry me." You had every intention of doing so, but that is no longer the case. In this situation, you can use つもり and say:
- I was really going to marry you.
Wow, that was really depressing… Let's lighten it up with the next example.
This time, imagine you are about to go on a diet, but your friend gives you some delicious chocolate truffles and you can't stop yourself from popping them into your mouth. In this case, you might use つもり and say:
- I was going to go on a diet, but I can't resist chocolate.
〜たつもり For Something You Believe You Had Attained
When the tense of a clause followed by つもり is in the past, or 〜た form, it denotes that you believe you've accomplished what you set out to do.
Consider the following scenario: Today is the day of the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) and you believe you've studied sufficiently. To express that, you can use 〜たつもり and say:
- I believe I've studied enough.
Even if you think so, no one can know for sure, right? That's why you frequently see this pattern used with a conjunction like けど… to express uncertainty.
- I believe I've studied enough, but…
If you ended up failing the exam and learn that your preparation was, in fact, insufficient, you can alter the tense of だ to だった and say:
- I thought I had studied sufficiently.
See how we can combine these uses of つもり to express intentions in a different way, just by altering the tense? Pretty useful.
Beyond the Basics
〜つもりで For With The Intention of 〜
When 〜つもり is used with the て form of だ, as in 〜つもりで, the meaning becomes "with the intention of…" or "as if you intend to do…" For example, if your boss wants you to work with the intent of revolutionizing the industry, they might say:
- Work hard with the ambition of revolutionizing the industry!
And if you indeed worked hard but with the intention of making your mark in history, you can say:
- I worked hard with the intention of making my mark in history.
〜つもり [は・が] ない
You learned that 〜ないつもり is used to express that you intend not to do or be something. When you have absolutely no intention at all, you can use this much stronger expression: 〜つもりはない or 〜つもりがない.
Consider this scenario: you own a shop, and one day a land shark comes to you and asks you to sell it. There's no way you're selling the shop to them because it was passed down to you from your great grandfather. To flat-out state that you have no intention of selling, you can use the は version, 〜つもりはない, and say:
- I have no intention of selling this shop!
You might recall that particle は is a topic marker. It works similarly to the English phrase "as for…" and is usually used to indicate a topic that's been brought up before, or one that the speaker believes the listener is somehow aware of. In this case, the speaker was asked if they were willing to sell the place before responding with this sentence. As a result, the speaker uses は to mark the entire subject — この店を売るつもり (the intention to sell this shop) — as a topic and ends the sentence with ない (doesn't exist).
On the other hand, if you want to say that someone else has no intention of doing something, you can use either は or が followed by a third-person indicator word, such as ようだ (it appears that…). So, when the land shark leaves your site and informs their boss that you have no intention of selling your store, they would say:
- ヤツは店を売るつもり [は・が] ないようです。
- They appear to have no intention of selling the shop.
In this example, the land shark would use は if they believe that their boss is already aware of the topic of your selling the shop. By marking the topic with は, you can emphasize the information regarding the topic, rather than the topic itself. Here, that information is ない (doesn't exist) and using は draws attention to that.
Particle が, on the other hand, marks the subject of a sentence. Using が calls attention to the subject itself, which is the intention of selling your shop. Using が in this case would simply indicate that the intention isn't there. This is a good way to objectively report on a situation.