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I heard both forms of [plain form of verb]~そう and [root of verb]~そう in an anime I watched, reproduced below, so I'm wondering how are they different and how to choose to use one over the other?

行けるそう
行けそう

What are these conjugations called? And how do their negative forms look like?

  • Sure you don't mean 「行けるぞう」? – deceze Jun 5 '11 at 3:40
  • I'm pretty sure that I heard it as 行けるそう with a {sou} rather than a {zou}. But does 行けるぞう exist too? – Lukman Jun 5 '11 at 3:42
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    Yes, that exists as well. – deceze Jun 5 '11 at 3:51
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そう after the plain form of a verb indicates you are reporting secondhand information, rather than your own direct observations. 行けるそう means "it is said that it can go." The negative form is -ないそう: 降らないそうです "They say it won't rain."

-そう after the stem (-ます form) of a verb means "looking/sounding as if ___." 行けそう means "it looks as if it can go." It is similar to constructions like 行けるみたい or 行けるよう, but -そう emphasizes evidence of the senses rather than general "seeming." The negative form is -なさそう: できなさそう "It looks as if s/he can't do it."

(Explanation paraphrased from Japanese: The Spoken Language)

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plain form + sou = hearsay, as you have heard it from someone  マークはアメリカにいくそうだ。 "i heard mark is going to america"

verb stem + sou = what somethign appears to be. good example of this is "She seems she can do it” できそう

Note, that plain form soudesu and らしい are different but very simliar. The difference being that you heard it directly from that person as opposed to from a 3rd party (rashii)

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    So, 行けるそう means "I heard he can go" and 行けそう means "He seems he can go"? – Lukman Jun 5 '11 at 3:50
  • Yeah, essentially. – phirru Jun 5 '11 at 4:00

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