Wild Nihongo!


らしい Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Auxiliary Adjective

Essential Meaning: It seems that / I heard that / Apparently X is the case (conveys conjecture)


  • (Verb / い-Adjective) informal + らしい
    • E.g. はなすらしい [X seems to speak]
    • E.g. たかいらしい [X seems to be expensive]
  • (な-Adjective Stem / Noun) + [X / だった] + らしい
    • E.g. しずからしい [X seems to be quiet]
    • E.g. 先生せんせいらしい [X seems to be a teacher]


  • らしい is primarily used to make a conjecture based on second hand information rather than on personal experience. In other words, らしい conveys the speaker’s conjecture based on information that he or she has heard, seen, or read (especially information that he or she has heard).
    • E.g. 松田まつださんはアメリカへくらしい。[It seems that Matsuda-san is going to America.] The implication of らしい is that the speaker heard, saw, or read from some second-hand source that Matsuda-san is going to America. The speaker didn’t hear it directly from Matsuda-san.
  • When directly re-stating second-hand information with no element of conjecture (e.g. “I heard that…“), そうだ (Hearsay) is used.
  • らしい can also mean “Likeness or nearness to some ideal or standard“. In other words, the structure XはYらしい can mean “X is the ideal or model of Y“. As an example, クリスはおんならしい means “Chris is lady-like” or “Chris is the ideal woman.” Because らしい is an adjective, it can be used pre-nominally.
    • E.g. わたしおとこらしいひときだ。[I like manly people.] In this example, the speaker likes people who are similar to the ideal man.
    • E.g. 大木おおきさんはおとこらしい。[Oki-san is manly. / It seems that Oki-san is a man.] When らしい is not used pre-nominally, the function of らしい can be ambiguous. In this case, the sentence may express conjecture that Oki-san is a man, or it may convey comparison of Oki-san to the ideal man.
  • When negating らしい, らしくない is used for conjecture, and ないらしい is used for comparison to an ideal or model. In other words, らしい does not conjugate when conveying negative conjecture.
    • E.g. Conjecture: 大木おおきさんはおとこじゃないらしい。[It seems that Oki-san is not a man.]
    • E.g. Comparison to an ideal: 大木おおきさんはおとこらしくない。[Oki-san is not manly.]

Example Sentences:

松田まつださんはアメリカへくらしい。[It seems that Matsuda-san is going to America.]

杉本すぎもとさんはもうかえったらしいです。[Sugimoto-san seems to have already gone home.]

このあたりはとてもしずからしいです。[That place is apparently very quiet.]

そのはなし本当ほんとうらしい。 [That seems to be true.]

ここは学校がっこうらしい。[This place seems to be a school.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 1:54: かれいまはどこかとおくで、はたらいてるらしい [It seems that he is working somewhere far away]

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