This is one of the most useful and versatile phrases you can learn and it’s a great way to impress your Japanese friends as well! Sounding fluent in Japanese has never been easier.

Learn JLPT N5 Japanese – Japanese Verb Conjugation “I buy a book” | Japanese language lesson
 BondLingo - YouTube Premium MemberShip

How to use ~Sou(そう) in Japanese : It seems/looks like/looks possible to/I heard that

-Sou is one of the most versatile and probably one of the most commonly used phrases for young and older Japanese people alike. Its commonly used with verbs and adjectives and is used in more casual conversations.

This phrase is used in expressing information that originated elsewhere (ex. “I heard the tickets are expensive.”, “I heard he doesn’t eat spicy food”), a verb that visibly looks like it’s about to happen (ex. “It looks like it’s going to rain.”), an action that the speaker has heard is possible (ex. “It seems like you can take photos.”), and describing something based on what you see or heard (ex. “She seems healthy/energetic.”, “I heard the airplane is big.”). There are a lot of uses for this phrase and we will discuss them in this blog.

Can I use it with nouns?

Very good question! This is something quite confusing and honestly, we understand why. This is something you should be careful with because -sou is only used with verbs and adjectives. If you would like to use “seems like/looks like/I heard that/someone told me that..” with a noun, use -みたい(mitai: looks like) instead. A few examples can be found below.

Kanojo wa Biyonse mitai!
She looks like Beyonce!
Kare wa Amerika de yuumei na kashu mitai.
I heard that he is a famous singer in America.

Verb Use

Verb stem + sou (“It looks like it’s going to…”, “I heard that…”)

When -sou is used with the -masu verb form, it expresses how we would use the phrase “seeming like” or  “I heard that/Someone told me that”. You simply omit the -masu and attach -sou. This changes a simple word to a phrase! The process in making this phrase can be found below along with a few examples. 

たべます(tabemasu: to eat) ➔  たべます(tabemasu)➔ たべない (tabenai: to not eat)➔  たべない(tabenai)+そう(sou) = たべないそう (tabenaisou: seems to not eat)

John san wa yasai wo tabenai sou desu.
John seems to not eat vegetables.

ふります(furimasu: to rain/snow) ➔  ふり(furi)+そう(sou) = ふりそう(furisou: seems like its about to rain)

Ashita ame ga furisou.
It seems like it’s about to rain tomorrow.
English-masu formSou formSentence example
…heard he was going toいきますikimasuいきそうikisou彼は日本に行きそうです。Kare wa Nihon ni iki sou desu.I heard he was going to Japan. (formal)
….seems to drinkのみますnomimasuのみそうnomisouアナさんはワインを飲みそう。Ana san wa wain wo nomi sou.Ana seems to drink wine. (informal)

Verb (kanokei/ can form) + sou (“It seems possible to…”, I heard that you can…”)

-sou can be used not only with the -masu form of verbs, but also the 可能形 (kanoukei) form of verbs. The kanokei form is ua phrase used when the speaker is trying to express ability or the possibility of doing an action. An example could be how たべられます(taberaremasu: can eat) is the kanokei form of the word たべます (tabemasu: to eat). When adding -sou to a kanokei form of a verb, this is the equivalent of “…seems like you can” or “I heard that you can…”. The process on how to create that phrase along with a few examples can be found below.

とります(torimasu: to take (a photo)) ➔  とれます (toremasu)➔  とれ(tore)+そう(sou) = とれそう (toresou: I heard you can take (a photo))

Raibu de shashin ga tore sou desu.
I heard you can take photos during the live concert. 
English-masu formSou formSentence example
…seems like you can sleepねますnemasuねられそうneraresou飛行機で寝られそう。Hikouki de nerare sou desu.It seems like you can sleep on the plane. (formal)
…heard you can writeかきますkakimasuかけそうkakesou赤いペンで書けそう。Akai pen de kake sou.I heard you can write it in red pen . (informal)

Adjective Use

Adjective + sou (“It seems like…”, “It looks like…”, “I heard…”)

Using -sou with an adjective is quite straight-forward! It expresses that the noun you are pertaining to in a sentence “seems” or “looks” like the adjective you are pertaining to. As students of Japanese, we know that there are na-adjectives and i-adjectives. The difference in transforming them into the -sou form is quite easy! You just attach -sou directly to na-adjectives and omit the -i, replacing it with -sou for i-adjectives. Please look below for the process and a few examples for na and i-adjectives.

げんき(genki: healthy/energetic) ➔   げんき(genki)+そう(sou) = げんきそう(genkisou: looks healthy/energetic)

Rizu san wa genki sou desu.
Liz seems healthy/energetic.

おおきい(ookii: big) ➔  おおき (ookii)➔  おおき(ooki)+そう(sou) = おおきそう (ookisou: heard it’s big)

Kanojo no ie wa ooki sou desu.
I heard that her house is big.
English-na/-i formSou formSentence example
…heard it’s expensiveたかいtakaiたかそうtakasouそのかばんは高そうです。Sono kaban wa taka sou desu.I heard that bag is expensive. (formal)
…seems newあたらしいatarashiiあたらしそうatarashisouねベンさんのパソコンは新しそう。Ben san no pasokon wa atarashi sou. Ben’s laptop seems new. (informal)
 BondLingo - YouTube Premium MemberShip

Learn Japanese with BondLingo?



Mastering the Verb Stem form in Japanese
The Passive Form: Japanese Verbs and 〜られる
bondlingo-learn-japanese wp-embed-aspect-16-9 wp-has-aspect-ratio”>
Learn Japanese online with BondLingo ?