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Japanese Lesson: Expressing Similarity Using よう、みたい、And そう

In Japanese, there are often many ways to say something that in English, we only have one way of saying it. Saying that something is 'like' something else is no exception in this linguistic difference.

Using よう to express similarity

よう Basically means 'appearance or manner'. The simplest example for this is to think of it as appearing to be state of being, such as seemingly no one being home or seemingly no food in the fridge. You must add だ or です to express the state of being.


ここには、誰(だれ)もいないようだ。-It looks like nobody is here.

映画(えいが)を観(み)たようです- It looks like he watched the movie

The verb 観る みる means 'to watch'. It is said the same as 見る みる 'to see', but when you watch something you are paying attention rather than just looking at it. The same idea for the verbs 聞く and 聴く, both are pronounced きく but one means to hear, and the other means to listen.

When you're modifying nouns and adjectives that are considered な adjectives, you must have the particle の before よう.

学生(がくせい)のようだ。- It looks like it's a student. (not saying that the person looks like a student appearance wise, but in this situation, it would probably appear that they're a student.)

ここは静(しず)かのようです。-It looks like it's quiet here.

You can also use ように to express things like "I said it like " or "I heard it like "

ちょっと怒(おこ)ったように聞(き)こえた。-I was able to hear it like she was a bit angry

何(なに)も起(お)こらなかったように言(い)った。-He said it like nothing happened.

Using みたい to say that something looks like something else

Don't confuse みたい with the conjugated form of 見る. You can use みたい and attach it onto a noun to mean that it looks like something else. This is not conjugated like an い-adjective.

Looks like a dog- 犬みたい

Doesn't look like a dog- 犬じゃないみたい

Looked like a dog- 犬だったみたい

Didn't look like a dog- 犬じゃなかったみたい


もう売(う)り切(き)れみたい。-It looks like it sold out already

制服(せいふく)を着(き)ている姿をみると、学生みたいです。-That person wearing the uniform looks like a student.

You can put じゃない after the みたい to mean "doesn't it look like __?"

このピザはお好(この)み焼(や)きみたいじゃない?- Doesn't this pizza look like okonomiyaki?

Do not use みたい in formal writing. It's only for conversational Japanese. In most occurrences you can use よう

Using そう to guess at an outcome

You can attach the particle そう to the ends of verbs and adjectives to guess at an outcome. This can be similar to "It seems __". This can be a little more complicated when it comes to adjectives, so there are a lot more rules on how to conjugate it.

Verbs must change to the stem

For る verbs you must remove the る

バランスが崩(くず)れて、一瞬(いっしゅん)倒(た)れそうだった。-I lost my balance, and it seemed likely that I was going to fall in a moment.

For う verbs, change the う vowel sound to an い vowel sound.

この辺(あた)りにありそうだけどな。-It seems like he would be around here, but...

The endings of い adjectives must be replaced

この漬物(つけもの)はおいしそう!-This pickled vegetable looks delicious!

For all negatives, the い must be replaced with さ

これはただの試合(しあい)じゃなさそうだ。-This doesn't seem like an ordinary match

The grammar does not work for plain nouns

You must use either でしょう or だろう

その人(ひと)は学生(がくせい)でしょう。- That person is probably a student

その人(ひと)は日本人(にほんじん)だろう。-That person is probably Japanese

Never use this with the verb かわいい, meaning cute. It won't mean 'probably cute', it will probably mean something along the lines of 'poor'.

That's all I can manage for this lesson. I understand that it was pretty long, but it was a lot to get through.

Here is a list of previous lessons, I will be adding this to it shortly. If you have any questions about this lesson or have an idea for the next one, please comment.


September 6, 2017






見るーTo see, Sometimes used as 'to watch' But you can also use 観る

聞くーTo hear, to ask。To listen is usually 聴く


I almost thought that I was taught the wrong way.. Thanks again for explanations!

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