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


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About そう

そうだ is one of the 18 primary auxiliary verbs in Japanese, and can be used in two (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)(はし)そう
    She seems like she runs everyday.
  • これ(ただ)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.
  • (かれ)部屋(へや)(きたな)くなさそうだ
    His room doesn't seem messy.
  • あの(くるま)(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.
  • (かれ)もうイギリス(かえ)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)(あさ)から(あめ)()みたいだ
    It looks like it is going to start raining tomorrow morning. (Higher confidence)
  • 明日(あした)(あさ)から(あめ)()そうだ
    It seems like it is going to start raining tomorrow morning. (Lower confidence)




    It looks like it is going to snow.


    The job of being a teacher looks difficult.


    Today's homework looks easy.


    That food looks easy to eat.


    This textbook seems very difficult.

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そう – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (26 in total)

  • Chrispy


    I highly agree to this! I was so confused by the information section. Thanks for pointing it out @Antlershy! This should get fixed soon!

  • KolkJPN


    So just to be clear, the そう that uses the stem of the verb is a seems like, looks like kinda thing, and the そうだ that uses the dictionary form of the verb as a “I heard that…” are completely different things, right? Because for some reason, the example sentences provided in N4’s そう section are all actually the the “I heard that…” type.

  • Trytytka


    The article says that that the conjunctive form of the words is used. Is it the same as the continuative form? I read on wikipedia that it is, but it says that i-adjectives would have -ku, and na-adjectives -de attached, so does it mean that the conjunctive form has two different versions? If so, are there any rules for when should which one be used?

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