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Part way through this question I got a bit side-tracked. I'll try and express my problem better here.

I think that the conclusion to the previous question was that 飛行機が混みそうです means "It seems the plane will be crowded". Here 'seems' implies that after examining the evidence (e.g. of previous flights) there is a reasonable probability that the plane will be crowded.

How would I translate "The plane will seem crowded"? In this case 'seem' is expressing visual perception while on the plane. e.g. it will seem crowded because all the passengers that have checked in are very fat and will take up a lot of room.

Would that also be 飛行機が混みそうです? Do I just have to infer the meaning from context or is there a different grammatical construction?

  • I might be wrong, but I think this kind of expression falls under the 飛行機が込んでなるみたいな感じです form of expression? – psosuna Aug 14 '17 at 18:37
  • ^ 込んでなるみたい ←「こんでるみたい」? – Chocolate Aug 15 '17 at 4:04
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"飛行機が混みそうです" can be rightly translated to "It seems the plane will be crowded," but no, it won't do as a translation of "The plane will seem crowded." Here's why I think this is so:

In "飛行機が混みそうです", the そう can be thought of as pulling semantic double duty. It serves two roles: one of denoting inference (corresponding to "It seems" in the good translation) based on evidence, visual and/or otherwise; the other of denoting future-time reference with regard to the action/state expressed by the verb it attaches to (corresponding to "will (be crowded)").

With "The plane will seem crowded," however, "seem" indicates not inference, but appearance, and "will" indicates the speaker's belief about a future event/situation. This set of meanings you cannot assign to the (連用形 + )そう. It's not in its job description.

So, how do we go about translating "The plane will seem crowded."? Maybe like this:

(あの体の大きな人たちが乗ったら、)飛行機が混んでいるように[見える/感じる]でしょう。

Or we can use そう this way:

(あの体の大きな人たちが乗ったら、)飛行機が混んでいるように[見え/感じ]そうです。

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  • So そう is only used for inference and not for appearance? Very interesting. I've never had it explained like that before. I guess there are so many cases where you infer something from appearance that the two concepts often merge into one. – user3856370 Aug 16 '17 at 19:09
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この飛行機は混みそうだ can be used when the plane is not crowded now but you think it will be crowded, based on some evidence. What you've just seen with your eyes safely works as an "evidence". This can be said even after you've gotten on the plane.

For example, you've just boarded a plane, and see there are still a lot of vacant seats. A while later, you suddenly notice a large group of sumo wrestlers boarding. In this case, この飛行機は混みそうだ is a natural sentence. Since you're already on board, you may also say この飛行機は混んできそうだ (See: Difference between -ていく and -てくる).

この飛行機は混んでいそうだ or この飛行機は混んでそうだ (colloquial) can be used when you don't know if the plane is crowded now, but you think the plane should be currently crowded based on an evidence. For example, when you are in a long waiting line for boarding that does not proceed even after the departure time, you can say この飛行機は混んでそうだ.

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"It seems the plane will be crowded". Here 'seems' implies that after examining the evidence (e.g. of previous flights) there is a reasonable probability that the plane will be crowded.

(連休中は)空の便は混雑すると予想されます。

"The plane will seem crowded"? In this case 'seem' is expressing visual perception while on the plane. e.g. it will seem crowded because all the passengers that have checked in are very fat and will take up a lot of room.

飛行機は混んでいるようだ。残念ながら今回は窮屈なフライトになるだろう。

In the latter case, I'd use the present tense, "This plane seems crowded. This is going to be an unpleasant flight."

Or, この客の数と客の体格から推測すると、この飛行機はとても混み合うだろう。

Do I just have to infer the meaning from context or is there a different grammatical construction?

Yes. You have to infer the tense (when in the time course) from the context. I don't think there is a definite grammatical construction that can tell the difference. However, in each context, native speakers can know how to express the difference when they want to differentiate.

"The plane will seem crowded"?

Actually, I don't understand the grammatical construction of this specific sentence, meaning what you explained. So maybe I am misunderstanding your question, and my answer may not be appropriate. Is your explanation really correct? And am I answering your question properly? Thank you!

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  • +1 Thanks. To understand "The plane will seem crowded" please see Goldbrick's answer. It made me realise that I don't even understand my own language properly :( – user3856370 Aug 16 '17 at 19:15

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