How to say something is "(adjective)-like"?

So, I’m still in high school and I’m doing a speech competition for my Japanese class. The theme is favourite characters, and I, of course, chose an anime character (Kenma Kozume, if you’re curious). Anyway, I want to say that his eyes are cat-like but I have no idea how to and the competition is tomorrow.

The sentence I want to say is:


Thank you!

Probably the easiest way to say it would be ~みたい, which converts something to a な adjective meaning “resembling, or -like”みたい

So, ネコみたいで in your sentence would be “resembling a cat” or “like a cat”.

A slightly less colloquial expression would be ~のよう.


みたい is totally fine for your level of Japanese though, so I wouldn’t worry about it.


What about 的? Could you use 猫的?If not, when/how should one use 的?

Wanikani lists “-al” as one of the meanings of 的 which I think describes it well in this context, in that you can’t just attach it to any word. You wouldn’t say something is “catal” when you want to say it looks like a cat.

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Yeah, 的 attaches to different things and expresses a different nuance, but it’s hard to express it with a definition.

You have stuff like 経済 (economy, finance) and then 経済的 (economic, financial)
比較 (comparison) 比較的 (comparative[ly])
世界 (world) 世界的 (worldwide, global)

EDIT: Okay, looking up monolingual definitions, it’s basically… with みたい and よう, you are taking a thing and speaking figuratively that it is like another thing, whereas with 的, you are distilling the thing it attaches to down to a quality.

I can find examples of people using 猫的, but it’s not interchangeable with みたい in those situations.

It’s true that -like in English overlaps with both uses though.

It feels like, the more you are talking about something observable and concrete, 的 feels wrong, but I was able to think of a place where they probably are both possible, with different nuances.

猫みたいな反射 - cat-like reaction (in physical appearance)
猫的な反射 - cat-like reaction (just in the quality of speed or precision)

Both could be used in some situations, but the framework is different. (And note that just because I can imagine these two doesn’t mean they are actually natural or would be used by natives)


There is a Bunpro page on 的. We can see it as a grammar keyword I guess.

Edit: There is also a Bunpro grammar point on みたい

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This doesn’t directly answer your question, but here is another way to express what you want to say.

  • 彼は「猫のような黄色の目をしている」。

In this case we saying that his eyes are yellow like a cat’s, it doesn’t necessarily imply that they are shaped like a cat’s however. Also, you in this case you could substitute 目 for 瞳, it sounds a little ‘cooler’.

If you explicitly want to say that the colour and the shape of his eyes are like a cat, then you would structure it like this,


In this case it would be better to stick with 目 rather than 瞳.

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Would ねこっぽい be usable in this way too? If not why?

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My impression has always been that っぽい is fairly colloquial and I probably wouldn’t use it in something as formal as a speech competition.


Think of っぽい as “-ish,” in English, both in terms of formality and specificity.

It can also be read as being derogatory more easily than the others, specifically because of an implied “imitation” element. For example, if you described a piece of media as being [other works’ name]っぽい, you’re essentially calling it a “~-like” or “~-ish,” which may or may not read as dismissive, but definitely doesn’t seem like praise without context, since you’re essentially calling it second-fiddle to whatever the original is. It can also express uncertainty, like you’re not reaaally sure you should lump it in with whatever you’re comparing it to, so while it’s not inherently negative, because it’s a bit colloquial and diminutive, the chances for it to feel a bit back-handed are many.

About the only time I can think it would be obviously positive would be praising a deliberate imitation, but even then, it’s pretty colloquial.

Also, I’m guessing the title meant “(noun)-like”? “Adjective-like” would just be “adjective,” unless you really wanted the uncertainty of something like “green-ish,” in which case you might actually want っぽい!


Colours aren’t strict adjectives, though, those are in a grey area!