At first, I thought the answer was simply that you can only use だそうです (because that's all I have ever seen), but today I read the entry for そう in the Handbook of Japanese Grammar (1940s) by Henderson (PDF via arxiv.org) and was surprised to see that the author listed both きれいそうです and きれいそうです as ways of saying "They say (she) is beautiful." He went on to say that it would be unusual to hear such a soft sentence as "きれいなそうな" in Tokyo, at least used by men. He didn't elaborate much, however. This same book said that the word is often written as さう (I believe this is obsolete today) and mentioned that it is an abbreviation of さよう.

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Is "きれいなそうです" correct, or perhaps an outdated usage of the form, or is the author mistaken? Could anyone shed some light on this?

  • 2
    I don't know much about it but that …なそうな is a dated expression and if it has been ever used (probably it has), it's probably one of Tokyo dialects. As for gender difference, it's mostly individual impression. For example, …かしら is usually considered feminine (and dated) but it's originally just a dialect in Tama, Tokyo where both of men and women used it.
    – user4092
    Dec 28, 2016 at 15:16
  • I actually have some other questions about some of the examples. Should I ask them in a comment here, or make my own question and link to this question? Also, have I lost my mind or was there an answer to this like 2 hours ago?
    – Kurausukun
    Dec 31, 2016 at 10:41

1 Answer 1


As a native speaker, 綺麗なそうです, 静かなそうです, 下手なそうです etc. doesn't sound wrong and does sound softer. E.g. one could accuse some third party by saying 簡単だそうです, implying the third party is wrong. 簡単なそうです is harder to say in an accusational way IMO.

As to how often it's used, I'd say much less than だそうです. Whether it used to be more common before I don't know but 〜なそうな is used as a cliche when the language is intentionally being made archaic, like when old fairy tales are told (e.g. 日本昔話). I'm also not sure if the gender is a factor.

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