Japanese Expression for Hearsay -
Intermediate Lessons: 10

The Japanese expression そうです (sou desu) that you will be learning in this lesson is used to convey the message that you obtained from another information source, either you have heard from someone or you have read it somewhere.

The sentence pattern for this grammar is quite simple...

~Plain-form そうです
~Plain-form sou desu
Meaning: I heard that ~.

Note: Plain-form means the word before "sou desu" can be verb, i-adjective, na-adjective or noun, all in plain-form.

In this Japanese expression, take note that your own opinion is not included in the information that you are conveying.

Let's use an example to show how this expression works using the following situation. In the office...

  • 田中さんは言います。「京都はとてもきれいです。」
    tanaka san wa iimasu. "kyouto wa totemo kirei desu."
    Meaning: Ms Tanaka says: "Kyoto is very beautiful."

Suppose that you heard what Ms Tanaka has just said. Later on, Ms Tanaka left the office. A while later Mr Suzuki comes to your desk and you tell him the following...

  • 田中さんは京都はとてもきれいだと言っていました。
    tanaka san wa kyouto wa totemo kirei da to itte imashita
    Meaning: Ms Tanaka said that Kyoto is very beautiful.

~と言っていました (~to itte imashita) is using the quotation that you have learned in lesson 27 of the basic lesson, except that in this situation, the speaker who you are quoting from is absent and you are quoting what she has said in the past.

You can also convey the same message by using the Japanese expression そうです (sou desu)...

  • 京都はとてもきれいだそうです
    kyouto wa totemo kirei da sou desu
    Meaning: I heard that Kyoto is very beautiful.

However in this situation Mr Suzuki doesn't know where is the source of this information. If you want to give Mr Suzuki on the information source, you can say this...

  • 田中さんによると京都はとてもきれいだそうです
    tanaka san ni yoru to kyouto wa totemo kirei da sou desu
    Meaning: According to Ms Tanaka, Kyoto is very beautiful.

So you can change the above sentence pattern into the following...

Information source によると ~Plain-form そうです
Information source ni yoru to ~Plain-form sou desu
Meaning: According to Information source, I heard that ~.

The difference between ~と言っていました (~to itte imashita) and そうです (sou desu) is that the former is used to quote what another people had said. Whereas the latter is mostly used when the information source is unclear and you are just stating what you have heard or read.

You are also not sure whether what you have heard or read is true or not.

More Examples

  1. Source: 天気予報, Information: 明日は雨が降ります
    天気予報によると明日は雨が降るそうです。
    tenkiyohou ni yoru to ashita wa ame ga furu sou desu
    Meaning: According to weather forecast, it's going to rain tomorrow.

  2. Source: 雑誌, Information: スペインの夏は暑いです
    雑誌によるとスペインの夏は暑いそうです。
    zasshi ni yoru to supein no natsu wa atsui desu
    Meaning: According to magazine, the summer of Spain is hot.

  3. Source: 鈴木さん, Information: 山田さんは昨日元気ではありませんでした
    鈴木さんによると山田さんは昨日元気ではなかったそうです。
    suzuki san ni yoru to yamada-san wa kinou genki dewanakatta sou desu
    Meaning: According to Mr Suzuki, Mr Yamada was not feeling well yesterday.

  4. Source: ニュース, Information: 2012年にロンドンでオリンピックがあります
    ニュースによると2012年にロンドンでオリンピックがあるそうです。
    nyu-su ni yoru to 2012 nen ni rondon de orinpikku ga aru sou desu
    Meaning: According to the news, Olympics will be held at London in 2012.

  5. Source: 新聞, Information: 来年日本で大きい地震があるでしょう
    新聞によると来年日本で大きい地震がある でしょう そうです。
    shinbun ni yoru to rainen nihon de ookii jishin ga aru sou desu
    Meaning: According to the Newspaper, there might be a big earthquake in Japan next year.
    Note: In this example, you need to remove the でしょう (deshou) in front of そうです (sou desu). You cannot put words like でしょう (deshou), らしい (rashii) or ようだ (youda) in front of sou desu.

Some Examples Without the Information Source

  1. Information: マイクさんは子供の時、アメリカに住んでいました
    マイクさんは子供の時、アメリカに住んでいたそうです。
    maiku san wa kodomo no toki, amerika ni sundeita sou desu
    Meaning: I heard that Mike lived in America when he was a child.

  2. Information: チンさんは明日北海道へ行きます
    チンさんは明日北海道へ行くそうです。
    chin san wa ashita hokkaidou e iku sou desu
    Meaning: I heard that Mr Chin is going to Hokkaido tomorrow.


mimi no sou desu

Sometimes, the Japanese expression そうです (sou desu) you have learned in this lesson is called 耳の"そう" (mimi no "sou") since the information is something you have heard or read from another source.

I will introduce another expression 目の"そう" (me no "sou") in future lesson which is used when you are guessing from something you have seen.


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