Etymology 1Edit

Alternative spelling
然う (rare)



そう (さう (sau)?

  1. so, like that, in such a way
    Sorya daro.
    Well, of course.
See alsoEdit


そう (さう (sau)?

  1. yes, yeah; it's like that; that's how it is; I see. (interjection to show that the speaker is paying attention)

Etymology 2Edit


Probably either a shift from (sama), or directly from (). Appears from the Muromachi period.[1][2]

Possibly influenced by, or developed by analogy to, the adverbial and interjectional (然う).


  • In Tokyo accent, the accent of the verb construction depends on the suffixed verb:[3]
Suffixed verb is accented Suffixed verb is non-accented
Continuative stem + そう () (evidential) Result has the accent on the (so) mora
Example: くりそーだ [tsùkúrísóꜜòdà]
Result is non-accented
Example: そびそーだ [àsóbísóódá]
Finite form + そう () (hearsay) Result keeps the original accent
Example: るそーだ [tsùkúꜜrùsòòdà]
Result is accented on the (so) mora
Example: そぶそーだ [àsóbúsóꜜòdà]


そう (-sō

  1. seeming that, seeming like, appearing that
Usage notesEdit

This productive suffix meaning “seeming like” can come after a full phrase in plain form, or after a verb or adjective stem, thereby forming a -na adjective.

  • After a full phrase in plain form, the resulting phrase implies reported speech, something heard from someone else. For example, the verb 降る (furu, to fall from the sky) plus this suffix forms 降るそう (furu , I've heard that it will rain” or “someone told me that it will rain). The adjective 美味しい (oishii, delicious) plus this suffix forms 美味しいそう (oishii , I've heard that it's delicious).
  • After a verb or adjective stem, the resulting word means “it looks like X”. For example, the stem 降り (furi-) of the verb 降る (furu, to fall from the sky) plus this suffix forms 降りそう (furi, it looks like it will rain). The stem 美味し (oishi-) of the adjective 美味しい (oishii, delicious) plus this suffix forms 美味しそう (oishi, looks delicious). However, いい (ii) + そう becomes よさそう (yosasō) and ない (nai) + そう becomes なさそう (nasasō).

The suffix should not be used after stem forms describing visually obvious physical traits like color. Although 赤いそう (akai , I've heard that it's red) would be valid, *赤そう (aka, it seems red) would not. Another example of this is that 可愛い (kawaii) means someone looks cute so it does not need another そう. (かわいそう (kawaisō) does exist, but means “pitiful” or “poor”.) The suffix should, however, be used when describing another person's mood or mental state. For example, if another person looks glad, one says 嬉しそう (ureshi, you seem glad), which is more natural and polite than saying 嬉しい (ureshii, you are glad).

This word is morphologically a clitic after a phrase in plain form, and an inflectional suffix after a verb or adjective stem. It is classified as a 助動詞 (jodōshi, auxiliary verb) in traditional Japanese grammar.

Etymology 3Edit



そう (-na (adnominal そう (sō na), adverbial そう (sō ni))

  1. : vibrant, manly, brave


そう (-sō

  1. : pairs
  2. :
  3. : floors in a building
  4. : small boats


そう (

  1. : pair
  2. : vibrancy, powerfulness; the prime of life
  3. :
  4. : a statement made to the emperor; a document or writing of such a statement; a musical performance
  5. : aspect, phase, dimension
  6. : draft, rough copy
  7. , : manor
  8. :
  9. :
  10. :
  11. : burial
  12. : clothing; binding of a book
  13. : priest, monk, bonze
  14. : idea, thought
  15. : stratum, layer, seam, tier
  16. : conflict, quarrel
  17. :
  18. :
  19. : noise
  20. 左右: left and right
  21. 疎雨, 疏雨: sparse rain


そう (sō-

  1. : gross, general

Proper nounEdit

そう (

  1. : A male given name
  2. : A surname​.
  3. : Song


そう (-sō

  1. : race, run


そう (sou

  1. 添う, 副う: to accompany; to comply with
  2. 沿う: to follow; to run along
  3. : (auxiliary) be, do


  1. ^ 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  2. ^ 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
  3. ^ Online Japanese Accent Dictionary (OJAD)