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.
She seems like she runs everyday.
This seems correct.
That clerk seems like he is attentive.
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.
His room doesn’t seem messy.
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.
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.
It looks like it is going to start raining tomorrow morning. (Higher confidence)
It seems like it is going to start raining tomorrow morning. (Lower confidence)