We have been taught a lot of uses of よう pattern like ように, Vます ように, sentence ending with ように, ようだ for comparison, etc. But everywhere in textbooks, the よう is written in hiragana. I recently found out that よう actually has a kanji 様. On checking jisho.org, I found that

様 よう
1: (Usually written using kana alone) (usu. after the -masu stem of a verb) appearing ...; looking ...;
2: (usu. after the -masu stem of a verb) way to ...; method of ...ing;
3: (usu. after a noun) form; style; design;
4: (usu. after a noun) like; similar to; (Noun) thing (thought or spoken)

So according to them, the only time it is written in hiragana is when よう follows the ます形. However my (non-native) teacher says it is always written in hiragana when it is used as a grammar pattern. As a result, I am pretty much confused how it is written.

I have read istrasci's answer to the question When should I replace kanji with hiragana, where he mentions that when writing elementary books, kanjis are often intentionally written in hiragana, since children can't recognize them that easily. Is this a possible reason why よう is written in hiragana or is よう really written always in hiragana when using as grammar pattern? If it is at all written in kanji, how to distinguish those cases?

On a side note, many words are written specifically in hiragana when used for grammatical purposes. In such cases, what impression do I give to the reader if I write those words (unknowingly) in kanji?

  • 4
    This question is also on your topic: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/15141/… I've not seen ように written as 様に with very much frequency in contemporary Japanese. Rules were different pre-war.
    – virmaior
    Jun 11, 2014 at 14:04
  • 1
    edict has a lot of entries where only the first sense has the "usually in kana" mark, even though all senses should have it. That's likely what you are hitting.
    – oals
    Feb 22, 2016 at 13:22

2 Answers 2


This depends on personal taste and situations, but in general Japanese people are generally taught to use hiragana for auxiliary verbs and particles.

  • ~あての(手紙) ~宛ての(手紙) (a letter) to ~
  • ~ごとに ~毎に per ~
  • ~ために ~為に in order to ~
  • ~できる ~出来る be able to ~
  • ~ように ~様に like ~
  • ~において ~に於いて at ~ (place)

I suppose many Japanese style guidelines (for newspapers, official documents, and such) have explicit rules to avoid kanji in those cases.

Those were frequently written in kanji before WWII, and people can still read and understand the kanji versions without difficulty. A few occasions of the kanji versions should not be frowned upon too much. However, excessive use of kanji for those cases can make you look like simulating old documents, or simply less trained to write modern formal Japanese.

I'm not quite sure, but according to my J->E dictionary, "stilted", "pompous" and "bombastic" may be the words I can use to describe my impression of the kanji versions.

  • So the reason why dictionaries still state よう has a kanji is because it was used earlier? In modern Japanese it is no longer used (様 as よう)?
    – Steel
    Jun 12, 2014 at 2:35
  • 2
    That's right, everyone knows ように can be written as 様に, but almost no one use kanji here. However kanji is not avoided too strictly in daily practice, for example, when my PC happened to translate ように into kanji. You can see them happen here and there.
    – naruto
    Jun 12, 2014 at 2:53

Searching the Balanced Corpus of Contemporary Written Japanese (BCCWJ, accessible at http://www.kotonoha.gr.jp/shonagon/) for 様に by removing results that correspond to 同様に, 神様に, etc., only four results are found.

様{よう}に 4 results (without false positives)
ように 185442 results (possibly with false positives)


様だ 0 results (without false positives)
ようだ 12378 results (possibly with false positives)

様で 2 results (without false positives)
ようで 82 results (without false positives)

So, for all of ように, ようだ, ようです, kana is definitely preferred.

The general rule is to use kana for words with grammatical function.

One other use of よう you didn't mention is the construction [ます-stem]+よう, where 様 is also written in kana, except for the verb する, which is usually written as 仕様{しよう}.

  • An excellent answer backed up by statistical facts. But I chose naruto's answer since he explained my other question as well "what impression do I give to the reader if I write those words (unknowingly) in kanji?"
    – Steel
    Jun 12, 2014 at 3:15

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