2.2.1. What are the uses of the sou ending?
The verb ending sou (そう) has more than one meaning. These can
be distinguished by the form of the preceeding verb.
Usage 1: Conjecture, appearance
When sou attaches to
it means "looks like" or "seems".
- ame ga furisou desu
`it looks like it is going to rain'
- ano tabemono wa oishisou da
`that food looks delicious'
- kono shigoto wa kantan sou da
`this work looks easy'.
When it is negative, it becomes either nasou or nasasou.
The above examples would become
- ame ga furanasou desu or furanasasou desu
"It does not look as if it is going to rain"
- ano tabemono wa oishikunasasou da
"That food doesn't look tasty."
- kono shigoto wa kantan ja (de wa) nasasou da
"This work doesn't look easy."
A negative form is also formed by transforming the da which comes
after sou into its negative ja nai, or de mo nai or
even mo nai. This form is emphatic. For example this might be
used when contradicting what someone else said. In this form the
above examples become
- ame ga furisou mo nai
"It doesn't look at all like it's going to rain"
- ano tabemono wa oishisou de mo nai
"That food doesn't look good at all".
Usage 2: Reporting what has been heard
When sou comes after
it means that whoever uses it is reporting something that they heard
or read somewhere else.
- the dictionary form of the verb, for example furu
becoming furu sou,
- the -i adjective, for example oishii becoming oishii sou (note the extra i)
- after a na adjective plus da, for example
kantan becoming kantan da sou.
- ame wa furu sou desu
`I heard that it is going to rain.'
- ano tabemono wa oishii sou da
`Someone told me that that food is delicious.'
- kono shigoto wa kantan da sou da
`He says that this work is easy.'
- kawaisou (pitiful) is not a conjectural sou ending
of kawaii (cute). Kawaii sou, however, means "(I)
heard that (she/he/it) is cute/lovable". Japanese native speakers can
easily distinguish between the two spoken forms, if pronounced
- There are two irregular conjectural sou forms:
- yosasou is the irregular form of yoi or
ii. (If it were regular it would be yosou.)
- nasasou is the irregular form of nai (the negative of
aru). It would be nasou if it were regular. As we saw
above, this negative form is sometimes also used with a negative verb
ending, such as furanasasou. See for
instance Martin's grammar book
(p. 992-993 of the Tuttle edition) for more details.
/ 2. Grammar
/ 2.2. Verb endings
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