Request Lesson : 〜そう = ~ sou = looks (like) 〜, going to ~



= Maggie ochisou!

= Maggie, you are going to fall!


= Maggie omosou…

= Maggie looks heavy…

This lesson is for my dear Twitter follower, Eiji.  :h:

He just learned ~そう=~sou at school and asked me how to use it.

Hope this lesson helps many of you as well.

First, I’ve got a question for you. Can you tell the difference?


= Gogo wa ame ga furi sou da.


= Gogo wa ame ga furu sou da.


=Ashita wa atsu sou da.

4)  明日は暑いそうだ。

=Ashita wa atsui sou da.

Yeah, it seems to be just a small difference but the meaning is quite different.


1) It seems/looks like it’s going to rain in the afternoon.

2)It is said / They say / I heard it’s going to rain in the afternoon.

3) It seems/looks like it’s going to be hot tomorrow.

4)It is said / They say / I heard it’s going to be hot tomorrow.

1) and 3) are based on your opinion or feelings and it means It looks like ~,  It seems like ~,.

and 2) and 4) are from what you heard. You got that information from other people or another source.It means It is said / They say / I heard… I will teach you these some other time.

So what we are going to study today is 〜そう ( = sou) which means “It looks/seems like ~ “ and “It is about to ~” “be going to ~”

Let’s check the grammar patterns first.


:l: Basic patterns:

With adjective,

:rrrr: Adj + そう ( = sou) (meaning) *It looks like ~, It seems like ~

:n: with i-adjective

美味しい = おいし=oishii = delicious

remove ( = i) + そう  ( = sou)

=美味しそう = おいしそう = oishisou =looks delicious

暑い = あつ = atsui = hot

remove い ( = i) +そう ( = sou)

= そう = あつそう=atsusou = looks hot

優しい = やさし =yasashii = sweet, nice

remove (=i) + そう ( = sou) = looks sweet

= 優しそう = やさしそう = yasashisou

眠た = ねむねむた = nemui/nemutai = sleepy

remove (=i) +そう(=sou)

= そう眠たそう = ねむそうねむたそう = nemusou/nemutasou  looks sleepy

:i: Exception:

よい(or いい= yoi (ii) =good

remove い ( = i) +(=sa)

=そう =  yosasou =looks good

:i: かわいい = kawaii = cute

Typical mistake: You might think “looks cute” is かわいそう ( =  kawaisou) but that would be wrong.

かわいそう=kawaisou means “poor thing” .

So just be careful not to say, あなたはかわいそう!= Anata wa kawaisou!

when you see a cute girl! That would mean  “You poor thing!” :grin:

Then how do you say “looks cute”?

:rrrr: You don’t use そう=sou   for かわいい = kawaii = cute.

She looks cute! 彼女はかわいい ( = Kanojo wa kawaii) no need to change or say かわいらしい ( = kawairashii)

:qq:  with na-adjective

元気 = げんきな = genki nahealthy, energetic

remove な ( = na)  + そ う( = sou)

=元気そうげんきそう = genkisou =looks healthy, energetic

綺麗 = きれい  = kirei nabeautiful

remove な ( = na)  + そう ( = sou)

綺麗そう きれいそう= kireisou looks beautiful

大切 = たいせつ= taisetsu na=important

remove な ( = na ) + そう ( = sou)

=大切そう たいせつそう= taisetsusou =looks important

静かな = しずか  = sihzuka na = quiet

removeな ( = na) + そう( = sou)

=静かそう しずかそう= shizukasou =looks quiet


Ex.これ、美味しそう!= Kore oishisou!

= Kore oishisou!

This looks delicious!

Ex.  彼、優しそうだね。

=  Kare yasashisou dane.

=He looks sweet.

:rrrr: Ex. 彼、優しそうな人だね。

= Kare yasashisou na hito dane.

It seems like he is a sweet person!

Ex. この映画、面白そうですね。

= Kono eiga omoshirosou desune.

= This movie looks interesting.

With verb,

:rrrr: Verb + そう ( = sou)

(meaning) It is about to  verb, It is going to ~, Looks like it is going to ~, almost +verb, when you assume some possibility

!to right! 連用形 = renyoukei  (verbs with nominal ending) and add そう=sou

する = suru = to doし ( = shi) そう( = sou)

そう ( = shisou)

降る = ふる = furu  = rain, snow (fall from the sky)

ふり  ( = furi) +そ う( = sou)

降りそう=ふりそう =  furisou 

泣く=なく = naku  = to cry

→ 泣き なき ( = naki) + そう(=sou)

泣きそう なきそう = nakisou

死ぬ = しぬ ( = shinu) = to die

→ 死に =しに( = shini) + そう( = sou)

死にそう しにそう= shinisou

起きる おきる = okiru = to get up

→ 起き おき ( = oki)+そう( = sou)

起きそう おきそう

来る =くる  = kiuru = to come

→ 来 き ( = ki) + そう ( = sou)

そう そう = kisou


Ex. お腹がすいて死にそう!

= Onaka ga suite shinisou!

= I’m dying (of hunger).I am starving to death.

Ex. 授業中に眠りそうだった。

= Jugyouchuu ni nemurisou datta.

= I almost fell asleep during the class.

Ex. 彼があまりに優しいので泣きそうになった。

=Kare ga amari ni yasashii node nakisou ni natta.

=He was so sweet that I felt like crying.

Ex. バルサがまたリーグ優勝しそうだ。

= Barusa ga mata riigu yuushou shisou da.

=Looks like Barça is going to win the league again.

Ex. くじけそうになったらいつでもこの曲を聞いて!

=Kujikesou ni nattara itsudemo kono kyoku wo kiite!

=Whenever you get discouraged, listen to this song!

For more advanced learners :


Other verb form :

There is another patternwith 可能形 = kanoukei  ( = can-verb そう  (= sou).

It means “It seems like 〜can do ~” “~ able”, assuming someone’s potential

やりそう = yarisou = about to do something, tend to do something, doable

:rrrr:そう  = yaresou  = It seems like possible to do something”

書きそう= kakisou = about to write, looks like s.o. is going to write, writable

:rrrr:そう =  kakesou = It seems like someone can write, It seems possible to write.

勝ちそう = kachisou = about to win, winnable

:rrrr:そう = katesou  = It seems like someone can win

Ex. なんか、やそうな気がしてきた。

= Nanka yaresou na kiga shitekita.

=I feel like I can do it! /  I feel like it is possible to do it/ …it is feasible

Ex. これ、私でも作そう

= Kore, watashi demo tsukuresou!

Even I can make(cook) this.

Ex. もう食べらそう

= Mou taberare sou?

= Is it ready to eat now? / Do you think we can eat now? / Are you ready to eat now?

Ex. ねえ、今日来られそう

= Nee kyou koraresou?

Hey, do you think you can make it today?

:l: With nouns???

We don’t use そう ( = sou) with a noun.

She looks like Maggie!

x 彼女、マギーそう! ( = Kanojo Maggie sou!)  →wrong!

We say 彼女、マギーみたい( = Kanojo Maggie mitai!)

:maggie-small: From the picture above:


= Maggie ochisou!

= Maggie, you are going to fall!

:rrrr: verb : 落ちる = ochiru = to fall落ちそう = ochisou = about to fall


= Maggie omosou..

= Maggie looks heavy…

:rrrr: adjective : 重い = omoi  = heavy そう = omosou = looks heavy


maggie-sensei マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


=Watashi wo miruto “Oishisou!” tte iu hito ga ooin dakdo..

=Many people say I look delicious when they see me…

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  1. Thank you for your lessons, Maggie sensei! I find them very useful.

    I have trouble understanding the difference between “sou desu” and “you desu”.



    When do we use sou and you?

    1. @Yan

      Hi Yan!
      Basically when you judge from the appearance/what you see, you use そう and when you judge things by having observed them or gathering information, you use よう.

      彼、優しそうな人です。 He looks sweet. (The speaker/writer is judging him by his appearance.)
      彼、優しいような人です。→It should be 彼は、優しい人のようです。(According to what the speaker/writer has been observing, he seems like a nice person.)

      雨が降りそうです。It looks like rain. /It is about to rain.
      雨が降るようです。It will probably rain. / It is likely to rain.

      There is one more
      雨が降るそうです。( I heard it will rain.)

      1. Many thanks for your explanation.

        ## 彼、優しいような人です。→It should be 彼は、優しい人のようです。##

        Regarding the above sentence, I don’t quite understand why the first sentence is wrong. According to your explanation in the “よう”-lesson:

        A (adjective / verb) + ような ( = you na) + B (noun / person) = B (noun/person) which looks /seems (like) A

        Doesn’t yasashii + youna + hito mean “a person who seems kind”?

        1. @Yan

          I see your confusion. I added the note for you in my ような lesson.

          adjective + ような+noun / person works when you quote or express your feelings.

          Ex. 誰かが彼は優しいようなことを言っていた。
          Someone was saying he seems like a sweet person.

          Ex. 彼は、私には優しいような気がする。
          = I feel like he is sweet to me.

    1. @finnien

      Yes, you say あふれそう ( = afuresou) about to overlow
      Ex. お風呂のお湯があふれそうです。
      = Ofuro no oyu ga afuresou desu.

  2. Hi Maggie Sensei,

    How does あとで話そう translate into “Let’s talk later” based on this lesson.

    I understand the following points from what you taught.
    1. “looks like”
    2. “It seems like 〜can do ~” “~ able”

    But I’m not sure how this “そう” in this sentence means “let’s”.

    Thank you,

    1. @Steven

      Hi Steven

      This そう is different. It is a volitional form of verb.
      1) Let’s do ~ ‘when you are talking to others”
      2) I am going to do ~ / I will do ~ ( showing your will)
      行く iku → 行こう ikou
      聞く kiku → 聞こう kikou
      する suru → しよう shiyou
      話す hanasu → 話そう hanasou

  3. Any tips for remembering the difference between the two そうです? I keep mixing them up and using the wrong verb conjugations.

    1. @Myisha

      Focus on the form before そうです
      If it is a plain form, I heard ~ /Someone told me ~

      Ex. 重い = omoi = 重いそうです。 I heard it’s heavy.
      Ex. 雨が降る= ame ga furu = 雨が降るそうです。 I heard it is going to rain.

      (重そう = Looks heavy / 雨が降りそう= Ame ga furisou= It looks like it is going to rain soon.)

  4. Hi Maggie-sensei! Thanks for the explanations regarding そう.
    I have a question: what about te-form + そう?
    Does it have the meaning of “It looks like it is engaged in that particular activity/state”?
    For example, パンを買ってそうだ。 Does it mean, “It looks like (they are) currently buying bread”?
    Any clarification would be appreciated.

    1. @Jeremy

      Hi Jeremy
      I think what you meant is this pattern.
      →casual contraction てそう
      OK, パンを買っている+そうだ。→パンを買っていそうだ→(casual contraction) パンを買ってそうだ
      Ex. 彼女はお弁当は作らずに毎日パンを買って(い)そうだ。
      She appears to be a person who buys bread everyday without making boxed lunch.
      If you want to say
      “It looks like (they are) currently buying bread”?

  5. 先生、助けてください!
    I am teaching senior Japanese for the first time, and one of the sections in the textbook is about using そうな and そうに, and I am struggling to explain the difference to them.
    It has been a few years since I have used my Japanese, so getting it all back is difficult!

    1. @Stephanie

      Hi Stephanie,

      Are you a Japanese teacher?

      そうな modifies a noun and is used as an adjective.
      a wallet which is almost falling from a bag.落ちそうな modifies 財布(さいふ)
      almost crying face
      泣きそうな modifies 顔(かお)face

      そうに modifies a verb and it is used as an adverb

      to eat something happily

      美味しそうに modifies a verb, 食べる

      It is often use with a verb ~なる
      〜そうになる = to become/ come to almost ~


  6. そうやっていつも迷っちゃうんだから How about it here?

    My attempt is: that’s how we are going to get lost because of you.

    I’m a super novice..
    Thanks anyway!!

    1. @dRyW

      Hi dRyW!
      That そう means “that way””so””that”

      そうやって= like that
      いつも= always
      迷っちゃうんだから(colloquial) I (or You) can’t decide (迷う also has a meaning to lose one’s way)

      そうやって = like that

  7. This was very useful and detailed. Thank you. I know you covered 重そう which is the adj + ending removed + そう but I was wondering what about if someone says “Maggie, you seemed to have lost weight”. I was thinking you could say something like “痩せたみたいです” but is it possible to use そう because its the past tense so I’m not sure if that makes sense. 

    1. @Miburi

      Hello Miburi!
      Good point! “Maggie, you seemed to have lost weight” is 痩せたみたい
      そう is only used to describe the current or sometime future condition.
      If I am working on a diet and I think it may work, I can say 痩せそう。
      And if you see someone who looks skinny you can say

      1. Thank you 先生! You explained it very well. 「細そう」はかなり言いにくいですね。
        I was wondering from the comment below, “彼はいつもセーターを着ていそうだ。”
        Can we use any action form that’s present tense or future with そう? like くれる=くれそう
        For instance, “it seems like he’s always teaching me English.”
        彼はいつも私に英語を教えてくれそうです。 Does that make sense?

  8. sensei, how do you say something like, “it seems he always wear sweaters.” and “she seems to never forget my birthday.”

    1. @Campbell Carsley
      If you want to translate those sentences with そう
      “it seems he always wear sweaters.”

      “she seems to never forget my birthday.”

      How’s that?

  9. 先生, I have a question about some variations on the “it looks like…” structure. How should I complete this:

    (丁寧体 / 普通体)
    A) It looks like it’s going to rain – 雨が降りそうです。 / 雨が降りそうだ。
    * No doubt here… I hope.
    B) It doesn’t look like it’s going to rain – 雨が降りそう_____。 / 雨が降りそう_____。
    * I /think/, based on some research, it might be 雨が降りそうもありません。 / 雨が降りそうもない。 Right? But I’m not sure about the も or why it’s there. そうではありません / そうではない would make a lot more sense for a beginner like me =p
    C) It looked like it was going to rain – 雨が降りそう_____。 / 雨が降りそう_____。
    * My guess, based on another comment: 雨が降りそうでした。 / 雨が降りそうだった。
    D) It didn’t look like it was going to rain – 雨が降りそう____。 / 雨が降りそう____。
    * No clue on this one. If the も thing’s right, then, maybe: 雨が降りそうもありませんでした。 / 雨が降りそうもなかった。

    By the way, do all those forms even exist?


    1. @Gabe

      Hello Gabe,

      A) It looks like it’s going to rain – 雨が降りそうです。 / 雨が降りそうだ。


      B) It doesn’t look like it’s going to rain – 雨が降りそう_____。 / 雨が降りそう_____。
      * I /think/, based on some research, it might be 雨が降りそうもありません。 / 雨が降りそうもない。 Right? But I’m not sure about the も or why it’s there. そうではありません / そうではない would make a lot more sense for a beginner like me =p

      It is possible to say 降りそうではありません / 降りそうではない but 降りそうもない/降りそうもありません are more common.
      When you use そう in a negative sentence, we often add も to stress the meaning.
      “も” has a function to emphasizing the phrase. Not even close to ~/ It seems like there is no way ~

      We also say

      降りそうにもありません。/降りそうにもない (stronger)

      C) It looked like it was going to rain – 雨が降りそう_____。 / 雨が降りそう_____。
      * My guess, based on another comment: 雨が降りそうでした。 / 雨が降りそうだった。


      D) It didn’t look like it was going to rain – 雨が降りそう____。 / 雨が降りそう____。
      * No clue on this one. If the も thing’s right, then, maybe: 雨が降りそうもありませんでした。 / 雨が降りそうもなかった。

      Right. Those are correct.

  10. Hi Maggie! Im confused wich is correct:
    I know that we also can use 行きそうにもありません
    What do you think?

    1. @PukiPuki

      Hi PukiPuki!!
      Those are very confusing. In conversation we say them both but grammatically 行かなそう is correct.

      How to form ~negative form ない + そう
      1) make a negative form ~ない  食べない
      2) delete い  食べな
      3) add そう 食べなそう

      1. Hi! I ask some jap friends and they don’t know i mean some of them said that is 行かなそう corect and others said that 行かなさそう is correct so it’s quite strange XD Thank you for your quick help! 相変わらず最高!マギー先生

        1. BTW i have small sugestion i think it will be better for us (people who want to learn) if you will put everything i mean how the verb will change or noun it will be easier to learn. Anyway thank you so much!^__^

        2. @PukiPuki

          Yes, because we use 〜なさそう form a lot in conversation. 
          But when you use ない as an auxiliary verb, “there isn’t, there aren’t , to not to have,” you use なさそう

          Ex. 時間がない→ 時間がなさそう (not 時間がなそう)
          and when it is used with an adjective, you also use なさそう
          Ex. 暑くない→暑くなさそう (not 暑くなそう)

          As for your suggestion, I know it would be nice to have a complete conjugation chart here but there are a lot of sites where you can check them out there already so…..

      1. いいえ、the ‘thank’ should come from me. (Sorry, don’t know how to write this in 日本語)

        Also, I wish to do a correction if it’s okay…


        I just realised that a small mistake can have a big change in meaning… だから私はちゃんと日本語を勉強します!


        1. @Bearz314
          is correct.
          and the ‘thank’ should come from me. is ありがとうというのは私の方です。

  11. Sensei, I have a question. How do we say “It seemed fun”? Is it “楽しそうだった”? Or is it “楽しかったそう”? I’m not sure both are correct. Please help me! Thank you so much! :D

    1. @egasani

      Sorry for the late reply. I was on vacation.
      “It seemed fun”?  = “楽しそうだった”?

      It seemed fun = 楽しそうだった
      I heard it was fun = 楽しかったそうだ。

  12. 今日は、先生!^^
    今日日本語だけで書きます!訂正してください n_n


    AKFGの「君と言う花」で「君らしい色」を聞いたけど、多分ただ曲で使ってもかまいませんでしょう xP


    PS:小さな間違いがあります「書きそう=tabesou = about to write, looks like s.o. is going to write, writable」

    PS2:過去形と「そう」を使ってもかまいませんか? 例えば、「少し間違えたそう」 正しいですか?

    1. @Orti

      OK first I will correct your sentences.( Just minor things. You did great!)
      →名詞に「らしい」を使っても正しいですか?/Or how about 名詞+「らしい」も正しいですか?




      →??(Can you give me the translation here? 何を「使ってもかまわないでしょう」といいたいですか?)
      Now as for your question, らしい, yes, you can use 名詞+らしい
      and you are right, if you say マギーらしい it refers to my personality or what I would do.
      I have to send you another related lesson. らしい

      BTW I will take vacation from tomorrow so I may not be able to answer your question for a week but will get back to you when I come back.

      1. どうも有り難うございます、先生!
        I’ll keep those corrections in mind^^

        With 「使ってもかまわないでしょう」 I was trying to say “Maybe it’s ok to use it only in songs” because songs often say things in a way that we wouldn’t really use in our daily life.

        I’ll check the らしい lesson!
        Have a great time on your vacations, 先生!

          1. Sensei, I forgot to ask about the 2nd PS.
            Is it possible to use ~そう with verbs in past? I mean, to tell how you think that something happened.
            For example, would 「車で衝突した?酔っていたそう。。。」 make sense?
            Assuming that you’ll read this when you come back…
            I hope you had had great vacations!


          2. @Orti

            Sorry for the late response.
            Yes you can use そう with a past tense.

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