I am translating the following sentence I found in my workbook.


美味しい is an i-adjective, so why is there a ?


This isn't simply 美味しい, but 美味しそう. The そう suffix means 'appears to be', and it takes な.

When I saw a photo of delicious-looking food, I couldn't help but drool.


This そうな is the 連体形{れんたいけい} (attributive form) of verbal auxiliary そうだ, which indicates mode.

美味{おい}し is the stem of 美味{おい}しい. The verbal auxiliary そうだ is placed after the stem of an adjective.


Oishii (i-adjective): The food actually tastes good.

Oishisou (with sou auxiliary verb): The food looks good.

Sou auxiliary verb expresses "seem" or "look" together with a verb, i-adjective, or na-adjective.

(sou examples)

with verb:
[雨]{あめ}が[降]{ふ}りそうだ (ame ga furisou da): Looks like it will rain.

with i-adjective:
これは[高]{たか}そうだ (kore wa takasou da): It looks expensive.

with na-adjective:
そこはにぎやかそうだ (soko wa nigiyaka sou da): That place looks lively.

And then putting na after sou makes a modifier to a noun.

[高]{たか}そうな[時計]{とけい} (takasou na tokei) expensive-looking watch
おいしそうな[食]{た}べ[物]{もの} (oishisou na tabemono) delicious-looking food

  • You may want to avoid translating 助動詞 as "auxiliary verb" in this context. Most foreigners who would ask this type of question won't be familiar with that term.
    – virmaior
    Apr 6 '16 at 11:23

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