Japanese Expression you desu (ようです) -
Intermediate Lessons: 23

In this lesson, you will get to learn another Japanese expression - ようです (you desu).

Some people may mixed up this expression with そうです (sou desu), or 目の"そう" (me no "sou"), which you have learned in lesson 19. However, they are two different expressions.

When the look of a thing leads you to make a guess, you state your guess using 目の"そう" (me no "sou"). You make the guess after looking at the appearance of a thing although it has not confirmed for a fact.

Japanese expression ようです (you desu) conveys the speaker's subjective conjecture, which is based on the information obtained through his or her sensory organs.

The difference between these two expressions will be explained further using some examples.

Sentence Patterns

As usual, let's check out the sentence patterns first...

Verb plain-form ようです
い-adj plain-form ようです
な-adj plain-form(~ → ~な) ようです
Noun plain-form(~ → ~の) ようです

Let's see how to use ようです (you desu) with an example...

  • 交差点に人が大勢集まっていますね。事故のようです。
    kousaten ni hito ga oozei atsumatte imasu ne. jiko no you desu

    Meaning: There is a big crowd at the cross junction. It looks like there's an accident.

Based on the big crowd that you saw at the cross junction, you deduced that there's been an accident.

Using with Adverb どうも (doumo)

Sometimes you might want to begin your ようです (you desu) sentence with the adverb どうも (doumo) which suggests you cannot be certain if what you are saying is a fact. For example...

  • 咳も出るし、頭も痛いです。どうも風邪をひいたようです。
    seki mo deru shi, atama mo itai desu. doumo kaze wo hiita you desu

    Meaning: I have a cough and a headache. It seems like I have caught a cold.

More Examples on Japanese Expression ようです (you desu)


michi ga nurete imasu. ame ga futta you desu

Meaning: The street is wet. It seems like it has rained.


aran san wa zutto benkyoushite imasu ne. shukudai ga takusan aru you desu

Meaning: Alan has been studying for a long time. It seems like he has a lot of homework.


ano resutoran wa itsumo konde imasu. ryouri wa oishii you desu

Meaning: That restaurant is always so crowded. It seems like the food there is delicious.


jimusho no denki ga kiete imasu. daremo inai you desu

Meaning: The office light is off. It looks like no one is there.


tanaka san wa sakana wo tabemasen. kirai na you desu

Meaning: Ms Tanaka doesn't eat fish. It looks like she doesn't like fish.


tokei ga kesa kara ugokimasen. koshou no you desu

Meaning: The clock is not moving since this morning. It seems like it's out of order.


yamada san wa byouin ni ikimashita. byouki no you desu

Meaning: Mr Yamada went to the hospital. It looks like he is sick.

Difference Between そうです (sou desu) and ようです (you desu)

It's common that people get confused between そうです (sou desu) and ようです (you desu). Let's use an example to differentiate this two Japanese expressions.


sensei wa doko ni itte mo isoide aruite imasu. isogashi sou desu

Meaning: Teacher is rushing around wherever he goes. He seems to be busy.


sensei wa jimushitsu ni imasen. demo te-buru no ue ni takusan no shorui ga oite arimasu. isogashii you desu

Meaning: Teacher is not in the office. But his desk is piled with many documents. It seems that he is busy.

In example 1, it indicates an intuitive judgement based on what you have seen of your teacher's condition or behaviour.

In example 2, it indicates your judgement based on what you have seen, read, heard or been told about your teacher.

The important distinction is not the sense which is being used, but rather that the former is based on direct observation and the latter is based on inference.

Another Function for Japanese Expression Noun のようです

Sometimes you can use Noun のようです (Noun no you desu) to describe something by using thing similar to it. It's often used in the following sentence pattern...

Topic は Noun のようです

piramiddo no you desu

For example, if you want to describe a hotel you saw in the newspaper, you can say...

  • このホテルはピラミッドのようです。
    kono hoteru wa piramiddo no you desu

    Meaning: This hotel is similar to pyramid.

It will be difficult to describe the shape of the hotel. But if you describe it as similar to the pyramid, it becomes easy to understand. Let's see one more example...

  • あの人の髪はライオンのようです。
    ano hito no kami wa raion no you desu

    Meaning: That person's hair is similar to that of a lion.

Again, it's not easy to describe a person's hair. But if you say it looks similar to that of a lion, immediately people can imagine the image of that person's hair and understand your description.

More Examples for Topic は Noun のようです


kono boushi wa santakuro-su no you desu

Meaning: This hat is similar to that of the Santa Claus.


akachan no hoho wa ringo no you desu

Meaning: The baby's cheek looks like an apple.


yamada san no kami no iro wa tomato no you desu

Meaning: Mr Yamada's hair color is similar to the color of a tomato.

Japanese Expressions Noun のような and Noun のように

In addition to Noun のようです (Noun no you desu), it can also be modified to get the noun-adjective phrase - Noun のような (Noun no you na) and the adverbial phrase - Noun のように (Noun no you ni).

The sentence patterns are as follow...

Noun のような Noun
Noun のように Verb/Adjective

When you want to describe one particular noun, you can use Noun のような Noun (Noun no you na Noun). Using the previous examples...


kono hoteru wa piramiddo no you na katachi wo shite imasu

Meaning: This hotel has got the shape of the pyramid.


ano otoko no ko wa santakuro-su no you na boushi wo kabutte imasu

Meaning: That boy is wearing a hat which is similar to that of the Santa Claus.


ano hito wa raion no you na kami wo shite imasu

Meaning: That person has hair which is similar to that of a lion.


akachan wa ringo no you na hoho wo shite imasu

Meaning: The baby has apple-like cheeks.


yamada san no kami wa tomato no you na iro wo shite imasu

Meaning: Mr Yamada's hair has the color similar to that of a tomato.

When you want to describe somebody's action or describe the adjective, use this Japanese expression Noun のように Verb/Adjective (Noun no you ni Verb/Adjective).

For example, if you want to describe how good a man is at swimming, you can say this...

  • あの男の人は魚のように泳いでいます。
    ano otoko no hito wa sakana no you ni oyoide imasu

    Meaning: That man swims like a fish.

You can describe in many ways how good or how fast the man can swim. But the best way to describe is he swims like a fish. People will then know how good he is at swimming.

Similarly, you can describe in many ways how cold the water is. But the best way to describe is that the coldness is similar to that of the ice. Then people can get the idea of how cold it is.

  • この水は氷のように冷たいです。
    kono mizu wa koori no you ni tsumetai desu

    Meaning: This water is as cold as ice.

More Examples on Japanese Expression Noun のように


kono kyoushitsu wa toshokan no you ni shizuka desu

Meaning: This classroom is as quiet as the library.


watashi wa nihonjin no you ni nihongo wo jouzu ni hanashitai desu

Meaning: I want to speak Japanese as well as the native Japanese.


otouto wa saru no you ni jouzu ni ki ni noboremasu

Meaning: My younger brother can climb the tree skillfully, just like a monkey.


watashi wa tori no you ni sora wo tobitai desu

Meaning: I want to fly in the sky like the bird.

Related Page

Lesson 19: Japanese Expression sou desu (そうです), or 目の"そう" (me no "sou").

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