That Looks Great!: Expressing How Something “Looks” by Adding そう to い-Adjectives :Let’s start off the new decade on the right foot! In today’s lesson, we’re going to learn to express how something “looks” or “appears to be” by adding そう (sou) to the end of an adjective. This lesson will focus only on i-adjectives. Here we go!

TOP 15 BASIC Japanese i-adjectives You must know first in Japanese | Japanese language lesson
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Expressing How Something “Looks” by Adding そう(sou) to い-Adjectives

When added to the end of a verb or adjective, そう (Sou) expresses the speaker’s conjecture about a current state or condition, or about the future, based on sensory evidence, a general feeling, etc. In English, sou roughly translates to “It looks…” or “It seems…” 

IAdjective Review

Before we begin, let’s review some common i-adjectives.

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
楽しいtanoshiifun
美味しいoishiidelicious
難しいmuzukashiidifficult
面白いomoshiroiinteresting/entertaining/funny 
高いtakaiexpensive

Now, let’s make a few simple sentences using the words above.

ディズニーランドは楽しい!
Dizuniirando wa tanoshii!
Disneyland is fun!
寿司は美味しかった!
Sushi wa oishikatta!
The sushi was delicious!
展示会は面白かったけど、切符は高かった。
Tenjikai wa omoshirokatta kedo, kippu wa takakatta.
The exhibition was interesting, but the tickets were expensive.

Adding そう to I-Adjectives

When using adjectives in their dictionary form, you are expressing what something or someone is according to your perception or opinion. By adding そう (sou) to the end of an adjective, you are expressing what something or someone “looks to be” based on limited information. In order to add sou to the end of an i-adjective, you simply remove the final hiragana character い (i) and replace it with sou!

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
楽し  ➝ 楽しそうtanoshii  ➝ tanoshisoufun  ➝ looks fun
美味し  ➝ 美味しそうoishii  ➝ oishisoudelicious  ➝ looks delicious
難し  ➝ 難しそうmuzukashii  ➝ muzukashisoudifficult  ➝ looks difficult
面白  ➝ 面白そうomoshiroi  ➝ omoshirosouinteresting  ➝ looks interesting
  ➝ 高そうtakai  ➝ takasouexpensive  ➝ looks expensive

Now that we know how to add sou to the end of i-adjectives, let’s create a few simple sentences to express what something “looks to be.”

東京ディズニーランドは楽しそう!
Toukyou Dizuniirando wa tanoshisou!
Tokyo Disneyland looks fun!
寿司は美味しそう!
Sushi wa oishisou!
The sushi looks delicious!
試験は難しそう!
Shiken wa muzukashisou!
The exam looks difficult!
あの映画は見たことないけど、面白そう!
Ano eiga wa mita koto nai kedo, omoshirosou!
I’ve never seen that movie before, but it looks interesting!
あの革のジャケットは高そう!
Ano kawa no jaketto wa takasou!
That leather jacket looks expensive!

[NOTE: The adjective いい (ii, good) is a special case. You have to change it back to its dictionary form 良い (yoi) first. After that, you remove the い (i) and replace it with さそう (sasou). Therefore, the correct way to say that something “looks good” is NOT 良そう, it’s 良さそう (yosasou).]

The Negative Form of I-Adjective + そう

Just like you can say that something “looks to be” a certain way, you can also say that something “does NOT look to be” a certain way. 

The first step in creating the negative form of this expression is by conjugating the adjective into its negative form. This is done by replacing the い (i) at the end of the word with くない (kunai). 

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
楽し  ➝ 楽しくないtanoshii  ➝ tanoshikunaifun  ➝ not fun
美味し  ➝ 美味しくないoishii  ➝ oishikunaidelicious  ➝ not delicious
難し  ➝ 難しくないmuzukashii  ➝ muzukashikunaidifficult  ➝ not difficult
面白  ➝ 面白くないomoshiroi  ➝ omoshirokunaiinteresting  ➝ not interesting
  ➝ 高くないtakai  ➝ takakunaiexpensive  ➝ not expensive

Now that you have changed the adjective into its negative form, replace the final い (i) with さそう (sasou). 

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
楽しくな  ➝ 楽しくなさそうtanoshikunai  ➝ tanoshikunasasounot fun  ➝ doesn’t look fun
美味しくな  ➝ 美味しくなさそうoishikunai  ➝ oishikunasasounot delicious  ➝ doesn’t look delicious
難しくな  ➝ 難しくなさそうmuzukashikunai  ➝ muzukashikunasasounot difficult  ➝ doesn’t look difficult
面白くな  ➝ 面白くなさそうomoshirokunai  ➝ omoshirokunasasounot interesting  ➝ doesn’t look interesting
高くな  ➝ 高くなさそうtakakunai  ➝ takakunasasounot expensive  ➝  doesn’t look expensive

Now that we know how to create the negative expression “does NOT look to be…,” let’s create a few example sentences.

あの勉強会は楽しくなさそう。
Ano benkyoukai wa tanoshikunasasou.
That study group doesn’t look fun.
納豆は美味しくなさそう。
Nattou wa oishikunasasou.
Japanese fermented soybeans don’t look delicious.
「マリオカート」は難しくなさそう。
Mario Kaato wa muzukashikunasasou.
Mario Cart doesn’t look difficult.
あのクリームコーンドキュメンタリーは面白くなさそう。
Ano kuriimu koon dokyumentarii wa omoshirokunasasou.
That creamed corn documentary doesn’t look interesting.
あのカシオリストウォッチは高くなさそう。
Ano Kashio risuto uocchi wa takakunasasou.
That Casio wristwatch doesn’t look expensive.

[NOTE: Just like with positive expressions, the adjective いい (ii, good) is a special case. You have to change it back to its dictionary form 良い (yoi) first. After that, you conjugate it into its negative form 良くない (yokunai). And finally, just like with the other i-adjectives, you replace the final い (i) with なさそう (nasasou). Therefore, the correct way to say that something “does NOT look good” is 良くなさそう (yokunasasou).]

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In summary

In summary, adding そう (sou) to the end of adjectives creates the expression of how something or someone “looks to be” based off of limited information. 

With i-adjectives, the expression is created by removing the character い (i) at the end of the word and replacing it with そう (sou). The negative form of the phrase is created by conjugating the adjective into the negative form, removing the い (i) at the end, and replacing it with なさそう (nasasou). The exception to this rule is いい (ii, good), which becomes 良さそう (yosasou) in positive expressions, and 良くなさそう (yokunasasou) in negative expressions.

Ring in the new year by getting out there and practicing what you’ve learned today! Always remember, the only surefire way to master a new skill is to practice, practice, practice!

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