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ようだ / みたいだ

ようだ / みたいだ

ようだ / みたいだ Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Auxiliary な-Adjective

Essential Meaning: X appears / X seems / X looks as if / X is like

Construction: 

  • (Verb / い-Adjective) informal + ようだ
    • E.g. はなすようだ [X seems to speak]
    • E.g. べるようだ [X seems to eat]
    • E.g. たかいようだ [X seems to be expensive]
  • な-Adjective Stem + [な / だった] + ようだ
    • E.g. しずかなようだ [X seems to be quiet]
  • Noun + [の / だった] + ようだ
    • E.g. 先生せんせいのようだ [X seems to be a teacher]

Notes:

  • ようだ translates to “X seems“, “X appears“, “X looks as if“, or “X is like“. It expresses the likelihood or likeness of something / someone or makes an inference about something / someone. The speaker’s assessment conveys a high level of confidence and is based on firsthand, reliable, information. (typically visual information)
    • E.g. 木村きむらさんは昨日きのうさけんだようだ。[It seems that Mr. Kimura drank sake yesterday.] In this example, the speaker is making the inference that Mr. Kimura drank sake yesterday based on reasoning from perceptual evidence.
    • E.g. この問題もんだい学生がくせいにはちょっとむずかしいようだ。[This problem seems to be a little too difficult for the students.] In this example, the speaker is making the inference that the test is too difficult for the students based on reasoning from perceptual evidence.
    • E.g. このさけみずのようだ。[This sake is like water.] In this example, the speaker is expressing the likeness of the sake to water based on reasoning from perceptual information.
    • E.g. このほんたかいようだ。[This book seems to be expensive.] In this example, the speaker is expressing a high likelihood that the book is expensive based on an analysis of perceptual evidence.
  • ようだ can be used counterfactually to express the idea of “It appears as if X is the case, when in fact X is not the case” or “X is like Y, even though X is not actually Y“.
    • E.g. このさけみずのようだ。[This beer is like water.]
    • E.g. 木村きむらさんはまるでさけんだようだ。[It totally seems as if Kimura-san drank alcohol (even though he didn’t).]
    • E.g. あのひとはまるで日本人にほんじんのようです。[That person totally appears to be Japanese (even though he isn’t).]
  • ようだ is a な-Adjective, so it’s pre-nominal form is ような and its adverbial form is ように.
    • E.g. 今日きょう田中たなかさんのようなひとました。[Today I saw a person who looked like Tanaka-san.]
    • E.g. スミスさんは日本人にほんじんのように日本語にほんごはなします。[Mr. Smith speaks Japanese like a Japanese person.]
  • The colloquial version of ようだ is みたいだ. The usages of みたいだ and ようだ are exactly the same. みたいだ is constructed as follows:
    • (Verb / い-Adjective) informal + みたいだ
      • E.g. はなすみたいだ [X seems to speak]
      • E.g. べるみたいだ [X seems to eat]
      • E.g. たかいみたいだ [X seems to be expensive]
    • (な-Adjective Stem / Noun) + [X / だった] + みたいだ
      • E.g. しずかみたいだ [X seems to be quiet]
      • E.g. 先生せんせいみたいだ [X seems to be a teacher]
  • だろう, らしい, and そうだ (Conjecture) each express conjecture similarly to ようだ. The differences are as follows:
    • (1) だろう expresses conjecture that is not necessarily based on any evidence or information. It may be a guess or a shot in the dark.
      • E.g. このほんたかいだろう。[I think this book is expensive (and my claim is not backed by reasoning or evidence).]
    • (2) らしい expresses conjecture based on what the speaker has heard or read (i.e. the conjecture is based on second-hand information)
      • E.g. このほんたかいらしい。[It seems (based on what I’ve heard) that this book is expensive.]
    • (3) そうだ (Conjecture) expresses conjecture about a current state or about what is going to happen based on what the speaker sees or feels. It expresses a fairly low level of certainty and can only be used with Verb ます-Forms or with adjective stems.
      • E.g. このほんたかそうだ。[This book looks expensive (based on my feelings, rather than on evidence or logic).]
    • (4) ようだ expresses conjecture based on what the speaker has seen or experienced. It involves reasoning based on reliable information, and thus conveys more certainty than そうだ (Conjecture). ようだ is the most certain of these four expressions.
      • E.g. このほんたかいようだ。[This book seems to be expensive (based on my reasoning based on perceptual evidence).]
    • To summarize:
      • だろう = pure conjecture
      • らしい = conjecture based on second-hand info (something heard or read)
      • そうだ (Conjecture) = conjecture based on what the speaker sees or feels
      • ようだ = conjecture based on reasoning or judgement of visual information

Example Sentences:

杉山すぎやまさんはアメリカへくようだ。[It appears that Sugiyama-san will go to America.]

上田うえださんはボクシングがきなようだ。[It appears that Ueda-san likes boxing.]

あのひと田中たなか先生せんせいのようだ。[That person looks like Tanaka-sensei.]

A: 石井いしいさんはもうかえりましたか。B: はい、そのようです。[A: Has Ishii-san gone home already? B: Yes, it appears that he has.]

木村きむらさんはまるでさけんだようだ。[It totally seems as if Kimura-san drank alcohol (even though he didn’t).]

ここはむかし学校がっこうだったようだ。[It appears that this place used to be a school.]

このさけみずのようだ。[This sake is like water.]

WILD Examples:

At 1:37, listen for this line: おもちゃみたいにねて [Jumping up and down like a toy] This is an example of the adverbial form of みたいだ.
At 1:53, listen for this line: 永遠えいえんはもうなかばすぎてしまったみたい [It appears that eternity has already passed the halfway mark]
Listen to this line from 1:30: なやんでいたことがうそみたいで、だってもう自由じゆうよ、なんでもできる [The things I was worrying about seem to be lies, I’m free again after all, I can do anything]

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