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?


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, 2011 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, 2011 at 3:42
  • 1
    Yes, that exists as well.
    – deceze
    Jun 5, 2011 at 3:51

2 Answers 2


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)

  • It might be work remarking that prescriptively, できなそう is considered the correct form, although in my personal experience, できなさそう is more common.
    – dainichi
    Feb 5, 2021 at 6:54

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)

  • 3
    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, 2011 at 3:50
  • Yeah, essentially.
    – phirru
    Jun 5, 2011 at 4:00

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