The auxiliary verb そう (
そう is used to say that something looks or seems a certain way. そう is also used in many expressions to indicate something that we heard, where its meaning remains
In this post we learn more about the meaning of そう, how it is formed, and when そう is used through real example sentences.
How そう is formed
そう as an auxiliary verb applies to the conjunctive form 連用形 of the verb or adjective to which it is applied. This conjugation is then followed by the copula だ to express
seems to be...:
そう cannot be used with nouns.
Let's see some examples of conjugation step by step:
- Verb: 走る
to runbecomes 走りそうだ
- Adjective in い: 難しい
- Adjective in な: 簡単
Today's homework seems easy.
そう in the negative with ない
To form negative verbs and adjectives with そう the conjugation is more complex.
For adjectives ending in い and な, you need to conjugate the adjective in the negative with ない and then convert ない into a noun using the suffix さ, so as to form the expression なさそう.
It is also possible to use じゃない or ではない to form the negative:
For verbs, you have to pay attention to the meaning you want to convey with そう. In fact, there are two possible conjugations.
Negative verb + そう
The first possible form consists in conjugating the verb in the negative with ない (which is used as an auxiliary verb, not as an adjective), and then conjugating ない with そう:
Let's see an example with the verb
to return 帰る:
Looks like he won't come home.
Adjective ない becomes a noun + そう
Another possible conjugation consists in transforming the adjective ない applied to the verb into a noun using the suffix さ.
Let's see an example with the same verb seen previously
to return 帰る:
It looks like it is the fact that it won't rain.
In the example the translation is literal:
- 降らなさ: the verb 降る
to fallis conjugated to the negative
not to falland then converted into a noun with さ
the fact of not falling
- そうだ then adds the meaning of
it looks like it is...
How and when to use そう
そう expresses a subjective assumption on the part of the speaker, meaning that something
seems to be a certain way based on what it appears to be, often visually or intuitively.
そう cannot be used when a fact is definitely true or proven for certain.
It's a book that seems difficult.
We note from the example that
seems is based on a visual guess of the
The use of そう makes us understand that what has been said is not based on any certain or verified information, but more on what one thinks subjectively and intuitively.
The building seems quiet.
Examples of そう
Is that so?
It looks like you can still use it.
That is it, right?