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If I say, "I think I will take another portion of lasagna", does that mean I am going to take another portion of lasagna?

Similarly, can the following sentence be used to state that Verona is my favorite city?

I think Verona is my favorite city.

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If I hear someone say "I think" at the beginning of a sentence, I'm prepared to understand that the following information is either a statement of belief or a statement indicating uncertainty. For example:

I think God exists.

This is a statement of belief and can be replaced with I believe in God.

I think Verona is my favorite city.

This is a statement of uncertainty, not a statement of fact. Were it a statement of fact, a native Anglophone would normally say Verona is my favorite city.

If you say, on the other hand:

I think I will take another portion of lasagna.

You are either stating a fact (I will have some more lasagna) or asking for permission (I want more lasagna. Is it okay if I take another piece?).

Context and intention, in so far as it can be determined, decide whether "I think" can precede a statement of fact.

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  • Could "I think Verona is my favorite city." be used as another way to mean "So far, Verona is my favorite city"?
    – apaderno
    Mar 31, 2013 at 23:46
  • @kiamlaluno: That's how I understand "I think Verona is my favorite city": Right now it's my favorite city, but tomorrow Rome might be my favorite city.
    – user264
    Apr 1, 2013 at 0:07
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    @kiamlaluno: I think so; yes, you can. When using "I think..." to express an opinion, it's also a way of removing dogmatism from your statement. Maybe you're a little hesitant declaring, "Verona is my favorite city," because it's hard to pick just one favorite. Maybe there are five or six cities you like a lot, and it's hard to pick just one. In cases like that, "I think..." sort of "softens" the assertion, if that makes sense.
    – J.R.
    Apr 1, 2013 at 1:08
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    +1 for @J.R.'s observation that "I think" is used to soften assertions. This is good to be aware of in public speaking. "I think", used too often, can give the impression that your conclusions are tentative. Saying "I think sales will improve if we paint the cows blue" allows you to back out, or caveat your answer. "....I could be wrong, though - who knows what color cows people want these days?" If you are 100% sure you are correct, consider a stronger form: "Sales will improve if we paint the cows blue. Get your brushes, everyone."
    – Adam
    Dec 30, 2014 at 18:10

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