ようだ、そうだ、らしいだ、みたい


#1

わからない。。。

Hey there, i’m a little confused by these 4 grammar points which indicate appearance based on what you see and hear.
I get how to translate them but i’m slightly confused about all the different forms and different rules.

If anyone knows of a good guide to help me out here with the little rules of this grammar point, or has any points, I would kindly appreciate that.

ありがとございます。


#2

So here’s the thing, you have constructs that mean slightly different things all lumped together.
Noun + のようだ = In the manner of Noun
学生のようだ = Is like a student
Verb (generally past I believe) + ようだ = Appears that Verb has happened
彼は映画を見たようだ = He appears to have watched the movie
Adjectives aren’t generally used with this. This can be used in written sentences and non-casual speech.

Noun + みたい = Looks like Noun
学生みたい = Looks like a student
This is basically the casual version of ようだ and while I think you could use it with verbs as well, it’s mostly used with nouns. There is a slight nuance in that みたい focusses more on appearance and is seen in constructs where the subject isn’t supposed to normally “look like” that. Example a guy wearing a dress being called 女みたい.

Now そう actually has two things to be aware of. This is the construct that is usually used with the STEM of adjectives to say “something looks like adjective”. Example:
そのケーキがおいしそうですね… = That cake looks delicious doesn’t it

However, そうだ can also be used when reporting things you have been directly told by other sources. In this case you would NOT be using the stems, and you would use the following rules:
Noun/Na Adjective (without な) + だそうです/だ
Verb/I Adjective + そうです/だ
彼は先生だそうです = I’ve been told he is a teacher
田中さんの娘は背が高いそうです = I’ve heard Tanaka’s daughter is tall
昨日山田さんがアイスを全部食べたそうです = I was told Yamada ate all the ice cream yesterday

And finally らしい is similar to the above version of そうだ except this tell the listener you weren’t directly told this information, but based on what you know this is what you believe.
Example:
その人は誰ですか? = Who is that person?
山田さんの友達らしいです = I believe that’s Yamada’s friend (based off some other information)


#3

I may (probably) be wrong on this, but isn’t らしい also used as a noun suffix, similar to -like in English? ex. 春らしい(はるらしい)= spring-like Thus changing the noun into an い adjective.

So could you say the following two sentences basically meaning the same thing?
今日の天気は春のようですね。
今日は春らしい天気ですね。


#4

This くらい is not an い-adjective I believe (and neither does it make い-adjectives)


#5

Yes you can use らしい attached to a noun to get the nuance you describe as well, and yes you can use it as an い adjective in this form. But the primary use of らしい (quoting from “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar”) is “when the speaker makes a conjecture based on some information which he has heard, read or seen.”

I personally feel
今日は春のような天気ですね sounds more correct than
今日は春らしい天気ですね
because I still feel there’s this nuance of conjecture when you use the らしい version as compared to a straight up “likeness” or similarity using のような

EDIT:
Picking up the secondary usage of らしい directly from the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
大木さんは男らしい - Mr Oki is manly
"Here らしい means likeness. That is X は Y らしい means that X is like the ideal model of Y. Of course it can also mean ‘It seems that Oki is a man.’"


#6

wow thankyou, this is super useful!!!


#7

Thank you @feanor and @shaaris96 for the post and concise summary. I’m reviewing for N4 in December and struggling with when to use these and the different conjugations. This is a nice summary in plain English. Cheers!