そう - Grammar Discussion

look like・appear, seem・have a feeling that

・Verb[stem] + そう・Optional だ
・Verb[な] + [ ] そう・Optional だ
・いAdj[] + そう・Optional だ*
・なAdj + そう・Optional だ

*いい→よ + さそう・Optional だ
(よさそう )

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I only had to input そう, but since 難しい is already in its stem form, it kind of gives away the answer. I think you should require the adjective/verb and conjugation (if needed) to be part of the answer for all of these questions.

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It will be done within 24 hours :+1:

Funny thing, I have added it to the to-do list yesterday hahaha :smiley:


The answers have been changed :+1:

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I’m confused with how to handle negatives with this grammar point. The rules are stated as:
Verb ない => _なそう
い-Adjective くない => _くなさそう

However, there’s an example that uses さ:

「仲直り出来 そう ですか。」「いいえ、出来 なさそう です。」

And one that doesn’t:

あなたの小さい車でもこの駐車場に入はいらなそう です。

Why would you use さ in the first example with できない?

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Hey :grinning:

In theory:
なさそう should be used with the negative form of adjectives and with the negative form of ある (to exist) - ない
なそう should be used with a negative form of verbs and with adjectives ending with ない (like あぶない - dangerous)

In practice:
Native Japanese use なさそう with verbs quite often, so often that it might be considered proper.

We wrote “できなさそう” example so that users would know that this form is also sometimes used.
I have added a short explanation under that example :+1:


Thank you!

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I was really confused when this showed up as my second review for the grammar point

because I hadn’t added the やすい・にくい grammar points yet.
If you’re following Genki II, そう is in the first chapter and やすい doesn’t show up until you’re more than half way through Genki II

Probably should change the help thingy into [飲みやすい]

Edit: Should I have mailed this as feedback? :thinking:


Hey :grin:

As you suggested, we changed it to [飲みやすい]!

Thank you a lot for the feedback! :bowing_man:



Just my two cents here: I think one of the most importat thing about this grammar point is the difference when it comes to いい… and since I don’t see any examples nor it being mentioned on the summary I thought I should mention it.

From Tae Kim’s:


The only exception to this rule is the adjective 「いい」. When using this grammar with 「いい」, you must first change it to 「よさ」.

これも結構 よさそう だけど、やっぱり高いよね。

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@chonzy Thank you for drawing this to our attention! I have updated the structure for this grammar point. We will need to write a new sentence (or two) to incorporate this exception into Bunpro. Cheers!

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I read somewhere that cautioned a few uses of [adjective]-そう construction, as it can sometimes express something one wouldn’t expect.

Such as:
可愛そう “cute-looking” (which can imply being pitiable)
偉そう “important-looking” (which may imply appearing self important or arrogant)

Are these true? Are there anymore combinations to be wary of?
And most importantly, how do I say someones baby looks かわいい!?(´・ω・`)


This is true, but in a very limited scope (you only need to memorize a few instances of this happening). かわいそう is more often written as 可哀相 or 可哀想, while 可愛い is usually reserved for expressing that something is cute, so they shouldn’t be too difficult to tell apart. When attached to adjectives, そう expresses that something “appears” or “seems like” something. For example, 痛い→痛そう→"Looks painful." This expression can only be uttered by an observer, because they do not actually feel any pain, they can only express how the situation appears to them. Because of this, かわいそう is not used to express that something is “cute-looking” since the observer can make that judgement by themself. The object, person, or animal in question is either cute or it is not. If you think about it, it sounds a little strange to say that something “looks cute” instead of just “cute,” outside of the compliment “oh, don’t you look cute!” It is more natural to say 可愛いと思う to express that you think something is cute, but it would be even better to just stick with 可愛い! when you see someone’s baby :wink:

When it comes to 偉そう, it can be interpreted either way, depending on the context. It can either mean 偉く見える, “important-looking,” or 偉ぶっている, “to act self-importantly.”

I cannot think of any other adjectives that can have unexpected interpretations off the top of my head, but I will let you know if I do.


You are fantastic @Pushindawood! Thank you for explaining the nuance so well!


(If this is the wrong place to ask this please let me know! I’m new to posting.)

I’m struggling with the difference betwen みたい - “like, similar to, resembling” and そう - "look like, appear, seem, have a feeling ". These almost seem like synonyms, and I keep conflating them in the grammer (both in N4:2)

Maybe そう is preceeded by adjectives and verbs, and みたい is preceeded by nouns and verbs? If so, how do I know which one to choose when preceeded by a verb? Thanks in advance!!


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Hey :cowboy_hat_face:

I think that reading this might help:

When it comes to conjugations:

Part of speech そう みたい
Noun - Noun + みたい
Negative with Noun Noun + では/じゃ + なさ + そう Noun + じゃない + みたい
なAdjective なAdjective + そう なAdjective + みたい
Negative with なAdjective Noun + では/じゃ + なさ + そう なAdjective[ない] + みたい
いAdjective いAdjective[] + そう いAdjective + みたい
Negative with いAdjective いAdjective (く) + なさ そう いAdjective[ない] + みたい
Verb Verb[stem] + そう verb + みたい
Negative with Verb Verb[な] + (さ) +そう verb[ない] + みたい

First thing you will notice that そう has more complicated conjugation, while みたい is simply appended to a word. Also, そう cannot be used with nouns, with the exception of a negative form of a noun.
(Example: 彼はサラリーマンじゃなさそうだ。He doesn’t seem to be salaryman. You cannot say 彼はサラリーマンそうだ。)


  1. with adjectives, it is used to express what the speaker feels based on the appearance of something. Generally, it is his impression based on direct visual observation (though it is not always limited to visual cues, it is mostly the case). It is an INTUITIVE impression.

Adverbs that are often used with そう are 一見 (a glance)、見るからに (at a glance) can help you feel that VISUAL and INTUITIVE nuance.

Even though みたい can be used with adjectives, そう feels to be more commonly used with them.

Things that are immediately known of first look like colors are not generally used with そう.

  1. With intransitive verbs generally judgment that something will soon occur, also generally based on direct visual observation. Intuitive impression. A prediction that something is about to happen.
    So if you see dark clouds right now above you and want to say “it looks like it is going to rain/it is about to rain” then そう is what you look for. Also when someone is coming dangerously close to banana peel, and you intuitively feel that he is about to slip and so on.

The adverbs that are often used with this use are もうちょっと、今にも、もうすぐ ( a bit more, soon, very soon)

Because it is used to make a prediction about something that is about to happen based on some visual cues, みたい and よう are not used for that.

Also, when you see someone coming dangerously close the banana peel, and you want to say “It looks like he/she is going to slip on banana”/“She/he is about slip on the banana”, then you are making prediction again, so そう is your choice too.

  1. そうに・そうな
    Used to describe manner, appearance something is done.

He eats with visible relish. He eats as if the food is really tasty.


  1. can express simile, that is describing something using comparison to make something easier to understand or for emphasis.

彼らはまるで 、沈む船から逃げるネズミみたいですよ。
They are just like rats that are leaving a sinking ship! (Of course “they” are not actually rats, the speaker likens to rats to emphasize. It is surely clear.)
Notice that it generally needs a noun, so そう it is not used this way.

It is often used with まるで、いかにも、ちょうど.

  1. To express conjecture, that can be based on all senses, past experiences or information. There is more reasoning of the speaker involved, less intuition. It is not generally used with expressions like 一見 or 見るからに. When みたい is used, the speaker is more sure about the judgement.

So if you see an orange that looks perfect, you would rather use そう than みたい.

このオレンジは美味しそうだよ!(This orange looks tasty!)

When someone says 雨が降るみたい。(It seems it will rain) that person usually doesn’t stay outside and look at sky basing the judgment on first glance instinct, but rather may have heard about it in TV.

  1. Giving examples (exemplification)

武みたいな人は少ない。There are few people like Takeshi.
東京タワーや秋葉原みたいな有名な場所に行きたいよ。I want to go to famous places like Tokyo tower or Akihabara!

  1. みたいに・みたいな

Used to describe that something acts, behaves like something (みたいに adverbial - “acts like”) or that something looks like something else (みたいな adjectival “such as”).

That is a castle- like house.

I want to swim like fish.

Another thing is that without context often both fit or even if you have a context the difference will be unclear. Like in the 雨が。。。example. Both are correct depending on context.

When it comes to the first case, on bunpro you have to rely on hint while knowing that the second answer would be also possible.
In the second case, just use the one that you think feels better, like そう is often used with adjectives, etc. Worry not!

I hope it helps,


Wow, that was an awesome in-depth answer mrnoone, thank you! That makes way more sense, yay : )

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Have a question about one of the questions I got.

雪が____です. [降る]

Correct answer is 降りそう。

I initially put in 降るそう。

Bunpro gives me the hint “This means I heard that…”
Can someone explain how る changes the meaning to heard?
Because the grammar point itself says that “そうだ” means I heard that

It just does. I don’t think there’s a particular reason, but this is how it’s used.

If そう is preceded by a phrase in plain form it expresses hearsay. The note about hearsay in the grammar point has a link to a separate grammar point for this use.

If it’s preceded by a verb or adjective stem, the result is an adjective that expresses “seems like” the preceding word. (And accordingly, can’t be used with visually obvious qualities.)

Since the translation for that sentence is “It looks like…”, it must be looking for the second case.

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fair enough I can accept it just does