I am trying to translate the following small text (taken from a VN):



So far my attempts have led me to this:

It was as though his worrying gaze seemed to be telling maybe we should give it up

The thing that seems to prevent me from fully understanding this text is the volitional part: [よう] after [ている]. For some reason, it just seems unnecessary to me, so what function does it have?

I am also aware of the abstract meaning of 「そう言う」(sometimes: [そういう] ) meaning "That kind of ..." but I was unsure whether it is the same 「そう言う」 since I have never seen it being used in て-form, let alone「~ている」. Therefore I translated it by intuition instead.

My question: is my translation correct with respect to 「ーているよう」 at the end of 「そう言う」?

Any corrections and comments are very much appreciated!

  • I think そう refers to the cited thought (もうこんなことはやめようか), 言っている is just "saying/telling now", and よう is not volitional - in this case it expresses similarity - "looked like" (まるで gives an additional emphasis).
    – Szymon
    Aug 24, 2014 at 0:25
  • Ok, I suspected that much of 言っている, but I have to say that I haven't heard of よう being used as similarity (I only knew about ような/みたい). Thanks, I will look into that. So, does my translation seem accurate then, or am I still missing something?
    – chlenix
    Aug 24, 2014 at 0:41
  • 1
    まるで is often paired with よう to take the meaning "just like" or "as if". As you have presented it I would translate this as "'We've had enough, let's give up.' His worried look seemed to say exactly that." but this is still a bit literal and needs to be matched to the rest of the text.
    – Tim
    Aug 24, 2014 at 2:52
  • 2
    You have to check grammar. いる's volitional form is not いるよう but いよう.
    – user4092
    Aug 24, 2014 at 3:34

1 Answer 1


よう(だ) in this sentence is used to express inference based on reliable information (often based on what the speaker sees) or similarity. It is not the volitional form of a verb. You can translate it as "look like", "look as if", "seem", "be like", etc. It is often used with まるで which gives it more emphatic meaning "just like", "exactly as if".

A verb can stand before this よう. It can be in progressive form and in this sentence I guess it means that the action is happening now. 言っている in this sentence is just the progressive form of the verb 言う, it's not used in auxiliary sense as in そういう.

そう refers to the thought cited in the previous sentence (もうこんなことはやめようか).

All together, your translation gets the meaning across. Tim's translation from the comment is closer to the structure of the Japanese sentence and I'll quote it in here:

"We've had enough, let's give up." His worried look seemed to say exactly that.


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