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そうだ (Conjecture)

そうだ (Conjecture)

そうだ (Conjecture) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Auxiliary Adjective

Essential Meaning: X looks / X appears / X seems


  • Verb ます-Form + そうだ
    • E.g. はなしそうだ [X appears to be speaking]
    • E.g. べそうだ [X appears to be eating]
  • (い-Adjective / な-Adjective) stem + そうだ
    • E.g. たかそうだ [X appears to be expensive]
    • E.g. しずかそうだ [X appears to be quiet]


  • This construction expresses the speaker’s conjecture based on direct visual information (i.e. it can only be used when the speaker directly observes something). The speaker’s conjecture concerns the present state of someone / something or concerns an event that may take place in the future.
    • E.g. あのくるまたかそうだ。[That car appears to be expensive.]
    • E.g. あめりそうだ。[It looks like it will rain.]
  • Before そうだ (Conjecture), いい becomes よさ and ない becomes なさ.
    • E.g. このアパートはよさそうだ。[This apartment looks good.]
    • E.g. 問題もんだいはなさそうだ。[There seems to be no problem.]
    • E.g. 村山むらやまさんのいえはあまりあたらしくなさそうだ。[Murayama-san’s house doesn’t appear to very new.]
  • A noun can not directly precede そうだ (Conjecture), because this intended meaning is instead expresses by らしい. Noun + copula also can not precede そうだ (Conjecture) because this grammatical construction conveys hearsay. However, in the negative non-past tense, a noun can precede そうだ (Conjecture).
    • E.g. *加藤かとうさんは学生がくせいそうだ。[Kato-san appears to be a student.] A noun cannot directly precede そうだ (Conjecture). The appropriate construction would be 学生がくせいらしい.
    • E.g. *加藤かとうさんは学生がくせいだそうだ。[I heard that Kato-san is a student.] When a Noun + Copula precedes そうだ, it indicates そうだ (Hearsay), not そうだ (Conjecture).
    • E.g. 加藤かとうさんは学生がくせいじゃないそうだ。[Sato-san doesn’t appear to be a student.] A negative non-past noun can precede そうだ (Conjecture).
  • Typically, the negative form of verbs do not precede そうだ (Conjecture). Instead, Verb ます-Form + そうにない / もない are used.
    • E.g. クリスはくるまりそうにない。[Chris doesn’t doesn’t seems like she will sell her car.]
    • E.g. クリスはくるまりそうもない。 [Chris doesn’t doesn’t seems like she will sell her car.]
    • E.g. この問題もんだい学生がくせいにはできそうにない。[As for this problem, it doesn’t seem that students can solve it.]
    • E.g. この問題もんだい学生がくせいにはできそうもない。[As for this problem, it doesn’t seem that students can solve it.]
  • そうだ (Conjecture) is also used to express the speaker’s conjecture concerning his or her future future non-volitional actions based on feelings.
    • E.g. ぼくはこのケーキをのこしそうだ。[It seems that I won’t be able to finish this cake.]
    • E.g. わたしはとてもつかれていてたおれそうだ。[I’m very tired; it seems that I may collapse.]
  • そうだ (Conjecture) conjugates as a な-Adjective, so pre-nominally it becomes そうな.
    • E.g. たかそうなくるま [An expensive-looking car]
    • E.g. あめりそうなそら [A sky that looks like it may rain]

Example Sentences:

あめりそうだ。[It looks like it may rain.]

あのくるまたかそうだ。[That car looks expensive.]

このいえつよかぜいたらたおれそうだ。[This house looks like it may collapse from a strong gust of wind.]

あのステーキはおいしそうだった。[That steak looked delicious.]

このあたりはしずかそうだ。[This area appears to be quiet.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 1:24: あふれそうしたたって、ただよう、そのかお [It seems like it will overflow, it’s flowing out, it’s drifting, that aroma] At 1:40, listen for this line: Oh Oh Oh, 美味おいしそうだ [Oh oh oh, it seems delicious]

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