Using 〜そう with い-Adjectives for "Looks..."

    • Adjective
    An い-adjective that has 〜そう on the end instead of the 〜い can be translated into English as "looks," as in "that looks delicious" and "she looks clever." It is used to give judgment about something based on what we can see.

    What Is そう with い-Adjectives?

    〜そう can be translated into English as "looks," as in "that looks delicious," and it is used to give judgment about something based on what we can see. The ending 〜そう can also be used with verbs and な-adjectives—but not nouns—to give a similar kind of meaning. But in this post, we're going to focus on い-adjectives. Once you've read this, check out our other posts to learn about how to use 〜そう with verbs and な-adjectives.

    To put an い-adjective into this form, simply remove the 〜い from the end and add 〜そう instead:

    おいし + そう = おいしそう

    楽し + そう = 楽しそう

    嬉し + そう = 嬉しそう

    There are only two exceptions to this. The first is いい (good), which becomes よさそう (looks good). Here we use the other reading for the kanji for いい (良い), which is よい. (Read more about this here.) The second exception is 〜ない, which becomes 〜なさそう.

    Once an い-adjective is in the そう form, it behaves just like a な-adjective in the way it fits together with other words. So just like with な-adjectives, we can add だ or です onto the end, we can join it to a noun with な, and we can even turn it into an adverb with に. More about this in the next section!

    そう with い-Adjectives for Interpreting Things We Can See

    As mentioned earlier, 〜そう is roughly the equivalent of "looks" in English, in sentences like "that looks delicious" or "she looks clever." In other words, you can use this form to explain what you think is a characteristic of something, based on what you can see at that moment. So if the cake your friend just made looks delicious, you can say:

    • ケーキ、おいしそう!
    • The cake looks delicious!

    If your friend asks you what your soon-to-be new boss is like, but so far you've only seen her in pictures, you might say:

    • 頭がよさそう。
    • She looks clever.

    So it's something that we think (but don't know) is true, based on the information in front of our eyes.

    You can also use 〜そう in situations where you are assuming something is true based on something you imagine.

    • A: 私はエアコン持ってないよ。
    • A: I don't have AC.
    • B: ええ〜、部屋暑そう。
    • B: Wow, your room must get hot.

    In this case, B is not actually looking at A's room but imagining what it looks like or feels like in her mind.

    Other Forms of そう with い-Adjectives

    As we've already mentioned, once we change an い-adjective into this form, it behaves just like a な-adjective. In other words, it fits together with other words just like any other な-adjective. So just like with な-adjectives, we can add だ, です, and so on, onto the end:

    • おいしそうだ。
      おいしそうです。
    • It looks delicious.

    This also works in the past:

    • おいしそうだった。
      おいしそうでした。
    • It looked delicious.

    Of course, we can attach it to the beginning of a noun by adding な between the two:

    • おいしそうなケーキだね!
    • That's a delicious-looking cake!

    And we can even turn it into an adverb with に:

    • おいしそうに食べています。
    • They look like they're enjoying their food.

    Other Forms of い-Adjectives

    Check out the chart below to see how 〜ければ fits into the い-adjective paradigm. Click on other conjugations or forms to learn more about them!

    Form 日本語 English
    Stem Form
    く Form strongly
    て Form くて strong, (and)
    Present Tense Form is-strong
    Past Tense Form かった was-strong
    Negative Form くない is-not-strong
    Past Negative Form くなかった was-not-strong
    Conditional Form ければ if strong...
    Measurable Noun Form strength
    Subjective Noun Form strong point