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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is...When expressing my conjecture or making a guess based on appearance, should I use そうだ(-sō da) or ようだ (-yō da)?
When you want to express conjecture or make a guess based on appearance, you may wonder whether to use そうだ (-sō da) or ようだ (-yō da), because you often hear Japanese people use both. This lesson will cover how to use そうだ (-sō da) and ようだ (-yō da) when expressing states or conditions with adjectives.
In many cases, you can use either. However, your answer will depend on two things. One, whether your guess is based on visual information only, or two, whether you have any additional information to interpret.
If you make a guess based on visual information only, you use そうだ (-sō da). If you judge not only based on the visual information but also additional information or reasoning, you use ようだ (-yō da.) So, basically, when you use ようだ (-yō da.), the certainty level is higher than when you use そうだ (-sō da).
Let’s go through some examples so you can learn how to use そうだ (-sō da) and ようだ (-yō da) correctly.
Here’s the first case, where you guess based on visual information only.
Let’s say you go looking for your teacher, Ms. Yamada, and you see she’s busy talking with other teachers. In this case, you guess that she is busy based on visual information. So you can use そうだ (-sō da) like this--
先生は、忙しそうだ。(Sensei wa, isogashi sō da.)
The sentence would naturally translate as, “The teacher seems busy.”
The next is the second case where you can get more information to judge the situation, in addition to the visual information.
Let’s use the same situation again. This time, though, you saw that she was busy, but you also tried to call her name and received no response. In this case, you received more information; you’re not getting a response from her, in addition to the visual information, so you judge that she’s busy. In this case you would say, 先生は、忙しいようだ。(Sensei wa isogashii yō da.). “The teacher must be busy.”
How was this lesson? Does that make more sense now?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
またね!(mata ne!) See you!


Please to leave a comment.
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JapanesePod101.com Verified
July 5th, 2016 at 06:30 PM
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What Japanese learning question do you have?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
May 24th, 2018 at 12:30 PM
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Hi Tony,

Thank you for asking the question.

雨が降るそうだ vs. 雨が降りそうだ

The difference between these two is quite clear.

雨が降るそうだ = This is something you heard (on weather forecasts or from someone) that it is likely to rain but the sky could be still be clear.

雨が降りそうだ = You have the same information but you can see the sky is getting cloudy and looks like to rain soon.

As for your suggestion about ~しょうです, I'm not sure what you mean. Are you talking about ~でしょう ?


Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com

May 1st, 2018 at 11:12 PM
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Hi Japanese 101 Team,

Could you please help to differentiate “ 雨が降るそうだ” and “ 雨が降りそうだ” .

And it would be helpful if you also explain about “~しょうです。”


Japanesepod101.com Verified
January 10th, 2018 at 01:31 AM
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Hi Channelle,

Glad to hear that you found our lessons helpful!

Hope you like the rest of our series. :)


Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team Japanesepod101.com

January 9th, 2018 at 04:47 PM
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This is really helpful!! ❤️️

JapanesePod101.com Verified
December 24th, 2016 at 01:27 PM
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Ana Mota san,

こんにちは! :smile:

I’m very sorry for the super late reply… :disappointed:

In the situation you described, you can say either one (either 雨が降りそうだ

or 雨が降るようだ).

Please understand that the 'correct answer' is not always one.

Depending on your intention and/or what you want to describe/say, you need to

choose the better suit expression.

まるで and のように can be used together.

These words function differently in a sentence, so it's not the same kind of words

as far as grammatical functions are concerned.

Hope this helps!

Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com

Ana Mota
November 9th, 2016 at 06:08 AM
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If you are talking with a friend and you look to the sky (and you have seen the weather forecast before) and the sky is gray, you say: "ame ga furisou da" 雨が降りそうだ。or "ame ga furuyou da"? 雨が降るようだ。

By the way, what's the difference between "maru de" まるで and "no you ni"? のように :smile:

Sorry if my English is bad, it is not my mother tongue :flushed:

Thank you! :heart: