Consider this sentence:


Someone I asked translated this as:

"But that is why I was able to become strong and had a lot of experience through my realistic overseas study that would not be possible in a short-term study program."

I don't understand how ような is translated as "that would not be possible"

I've learnt that ような is used to express likeness or similarity. For example:

彼は私が想像していたような人ではなかった。He is not the person "like" I imagined

It wouldn't make sense if I use ような as "like" in the first sentence:

I read



"...and had a lot of realistic experiences studying abroad "like" I can't experience when studying short-term abroad."

I know this sentence also wouldn't make sense for the same reasons:

実行できないような脅しはするな。Never make threats "that" you cannot carry out.

Is there another use for ような other than "like"? Can someone please explain this grammatical rule to me?

  • 1
    I think "the likes of which" is a fairly close English equivalent for this usage of ような. The whole phrase could be translated roughly as "I was able to have lots of realistic overseas study experiences the likes of which I wouldn't have experienced in a short-term overseas study program."
    – Ben Roffey
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 11:12
  • Can I interpret it like that? "[my realistic experience studying abroad] is like [what I wouldn't have experienced when I study short term]" [Event A] is like [what happens if I don't do Event B]. Thank you very much for your answer!
    – shade549
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 22:40

2 Answers 2


It might help to think of it as "I had experiences that were not like ones I would have had on a shorter exchange." In this case you can see that ような still has the meaning of "like", and not of "that".

Even 実行できないような脅しはするな could be thought of as "never make threats like ones you can't go through with".

I would avoid trying to make ような translate to "that" since it really is expressing likeness in any case I can think of.



This sentence is in the following construct:

「Phrase (often a mini-sentence) + ような + Noun/Noun Phrase」

which means:

"the kind/type of (noun/noun phrase) that (phrase/mini-sentence)"

If you thought that 「ような」 used in a sentence pattern as the above could neatly be translated into a single English word, that would not be the case. Translation between two unrelated languages does not work like that.

I've learnt that ような is used to express likeness or similarity.

Precisely. The sentence pattern above expresses exactly that. You are talking about a matter turning out to be similar or unsimilar to what you had expected/heard/imagined, etc. Thus, the TL by your someone is actually quite valid. It succeeds in capturing the intended meaning of the original.

(And "like" is so much related to "similar/unsimilar", isn't it? "Like" is a good word in explaining what 「ような」 means. Whether or not "like" can be used all by itself in the translation, however, is a completely different matter.)

Using my own explanation above, my TL would look like this:

"That, however, is why I was able to become a stronger person and was able to have the many types of "real" study-abroad experiences that I would not have been able to in a short-term study-abroad program.

Finally, let us use my "the kind/type of ~~ that ~~" construct in translating:


My own TL of that would naturally be:

"Never make the kinds of threats that you could not carry out!"

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