Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 1: 3/17


Like, Similar to, As if, The same as

よう is now used in most situations except some fixed phrases


Noun + (1) + ごとし
Noun + (1) + ごとく
Noun + (1) + ごとき + Noun

Verb + (2) + ごとし
Verb + (2) + ごとく
Verb + (2) + ごとき + Noun,



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About 如く・如き・如し

(ごと) is an classical auxiliary verb in Japanese which has a very similar meaning to its modern equivalent, よう 'manner of'. Just like よう, ごとし (written primarily in hiragana) focuses on the appearance of (A) based on observation. Due to this, ごとし may be translated as 'like (A)', 'similar to (A)', or 'as if it were (A)'.
ごとし is the base form of this auxiliary verb, but ごとく (the conjunctive form), and ごとき (the attributive form) will also be seen. As only ごとき is attributive, it may be followed directly by other nouns, while ごとし most often comes at the end of sentences. ごとく acts as an adverb when preceding verbs, but may also be seen before breaks in clauses. Let's look at a few examples of each form.
Like よう, ごとし and its variations will follow の when coming after a noun. However, it will follow が when coming after a verb.
  • ことわざ:(りゅう)(つばさ)()たる(ごと)
    Proverb: It is as if a dragon had wings.
  • 主婦(しゅふ)(わたし)には(やす)みなんかはあってなきが(ごと)
    As a housewife, it's like I don't have any days off.
  • 高橋(たかはし)先生(せんせい)(おに)(ごと)(こわ)いと()(うわさ)()いた。
    I have heard rumors that Mr. Takahashi is as scary as a demon.
  • ()まれてきたばかりの(あか)ちゃんが天使(てんし)(ごと)かわいい。
    The baby that was just born is cute like an angel.
  • 彼女(かのじょ)(ごと)(あたま)がいい(ひと)でも失敗(しっぱい)することはあるに()まっている。
    Even a smart person like her is bound to make mistakes.
  • 風邪(かぜ)ごとき(やす)んでいる余裕(よゆう)など(わたし)にはない。
    I can't afford to take a break just because of something like a cold.
As ごとし is old-fashioned, it will primarily be encountered in books, rather than in speech.
Fun Fact
The kanji 如 itself has a meaning very similar to the word 'likeness' in English, indicating something that resembles (A) in every sense of the word, but is not actually (A). This kanji can be seen in several common words in Japanese such as 如何(どう) 'how'.




    Her movements are like those of a ballet dancer.


    There are not many heroes like Gandalf.


    He runs like Usain Bolt.


    A novel about ninja: 'Katsura ran through the garden like a swift wind and jumped over the wall.'


    Funeral speech: 'When I was a kid, my uncle used to say 'time flies like an arrow.' Now I feel like I'm finally starting to understand the meaning of it.'

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如く・如き・如し – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (3 in total)

  • matt_in_mito


    Why is my answer incorrect in this case? のごとき fits in with the structure as well as the explanation written in orange (i.e. noun + のごとき + noun) but it says it is incorrect. Any ideas?

  • nekoyama


    It’s not the garden that’s like a swift wind.

  • matt_in_mito


    Oh I think I understand, so you could put a 、 after ごとき and that would also look OK, right?

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