Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 10: 4/17

に見(み)える
to look, to seem, to appear

Structure
Casual
Formal
Verb + よう(1) + + みえる
[い]Adjective[+ そうに(2) + みえる
[な]Adjective + そう) + + みえる
Noun + + よう(1))+ + みえる

(1) みたい
(2)
Verb + よう(1) + + みえます
[い]Adjective[+ そうに(2) + みえます
[な]Adjective + そう) + + みえます
Noun + + よう(1))+ + みえます

(1) みたい
(2)
Details
Register Standard
使用域 一般
Information
にみえる (primarily written only in hiragana) is a phrase that combines the 格助詞(かくじょし) (case-marking particle) , with the る-Verb見(み)える ‘to appear’, or ‘to be visible’. This construction is regularly used with nouns, to show that something ‘appears to be (A)’, but it may also be partnered with the auxiliary verbs ようだ or そうだ (in their adverbial forms ように and そうに) to add a level of uncertainty. In these cases, it sounds closer to ‘to seem to be (A)’ in English.
  • あの雲(くも)アイスクリームにみえる
    That cloud looks like an ice cream.
  • サム泳(およ)ぎ方(かた)溺(おぼ)れているようにみえる
    Sam’s way of swimming looks as if he is drowning.
  • 寒(さむ)そうにみえるけど、大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)?
    You look like you are cold, are you okay?
  • あの仕事(しごと)大変(たいへん)そうにみえる
    That job looks like it is tough.
  • 一人(ひとり)暗(くら)所(ところ)いるなんでも顔(かお)のようににみえる
    When I am in a dark place alone, everything looks like a face.
As with many other ようだ structures, みたい may be used instead. This creates the expression みたいにみえる. While this may appear confusing at first, it just means ‘to look like something that could be (A)’. In this way it reinforces the ‘guess’ that the speaker is making.
  • このコート着(き)太(ふと)っみたいにみえるから嫌(きら)い
    It seems to look like I got fat when I wear this coat, so I don't like it.
Caution
In grammar constructions like this, kanji will very rarely be used. This is primarily because it will change the way a native speaker perceives the meaning. Many grammar structures are written purely in hiragana, specifically to express that they are a ‘set’ construction. Adding kanji can lead a reader to assume that the writer is highlighting the kanji’s meaning, rather than the more common grammatical meaning.
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彼(かれ)忙(いそが)しそうにみえる
He looks busy.
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先生(せんせい)怒(おこ)っているようにみえ
The teacher looks angry.
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このスーツケース軽(かる)くみえる
This suitcase looks light.
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[AIAIJ] An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
Page 171