Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 3: 5/18

Look like, Appear, Seem, Have a feeling that

Do not confuse with そうだ (I heard that...).

Verb[ます+ そう +
[い]Adjective[+ そう +
[な]Adjective + そう +

Verb[ない+ な + そう +
[い]Adjective [ない] + + そう +
[な]Adjective + では(1)ない + + そう +

いい → よ + そう + そう

(1) じゃ
Verb[ます+ そう + です
[い]Adjective[+ そう + です
[な]Adjective + そう + です

Verb[ない+ な + そう + です
[い]Adjective [ない] + + そう + です
[な]Adjective + では(1)ない + + そう + です

いい → よ + そう + ですそうです

(1) じゃ
Register Standard
使用域 一般
そうだ is one of the 18 primary 助動詞(じょどうし) (auxiliary verbs) in Japanese, and can be used in 2 different ways. The broad meaning in each of its applications is that something ‘seems’ to be a certain way. Due to this, そう is regularly translated as ‘seems like’, ‘looks like’, or ‘appears as though’.
In this lesson, we will focus on the form that is used with the conjunctive (stem) form of words. Please examine the structure guide to see these forms.
  • 彼女(かのじょ)毎日(まいにち)走(はし)そう
    She seems like she runs everyday.
  • これ正(ただ)しそう
    This seems correct.
  • あの店員(てんいん)丁寧(ていねい)そう
    That clerk seems like he is attentive.
そう may also be used when attached to the い-Adjective, ない. In this case, there is a unique conjugation rule which we will need to be careful of. As always, い will be removed from ない before attaching そう. However, さ will be inserted between な, and そう. This creates the expression なさそう.
  • 彼(かれ)部屋(へや)汚(きたな)くなさそうだ
    His room doesn’t seem messy.
  • あの車(くるま)小(ちい)さく便利(べんり)じゃなさそう
    That car is small, and looks inconvenient.
Note that this addition of さ does not happen with verbs. This is due to the ない that is used with negative verbs being an auxiliary verb, and not an い-Adjective. With the auxiliary verb ない, simply remove the い, before adding そう directly to the stem.
  • 彼(かれ)もうイギリス帰(かえ)らそうだ
    It appears that he is not going back to England.
This そう is utilized exclusively to make predictions/guesses about something based on visual information. It is relatively low confidence, so should not be used for things that are obvious. In these cases, みたい would be used instead.
  • 明日(あした)朝(あさ)から雨(あめ)降(ふ)みたいだ
    It looks like it is going to start raining tomorrow morning. (Higher confidence)
  • 明日(あした)朝(あさ)から雨(あめ)降(ふ)りそうだ
    It seems like it is going to start raining tomorrow morning. (Lower confidence)
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It looks like it is going to snow.
The job of being a teacher looks hard.
Today's homework looks easy.
みんなの日本語 I
Page 20 [CH 2]
Genki II 2nd Edition
Page 33
みんなの日本語 II
Page 114 [CH 43]
Marugoto Elementary 2 (A2) Rikai
Page 34
Genki II 1st Edition
Page 13
[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Page 1 & 410
Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide
Page 261
[AIAIJ] An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
Page 74