I'm a beginner in Japanese.

I know ように can mean "as", "so", "like", and よう can mean "look like". And I know that そう can mean "seem like", "that way", "or such", but there are too many possible combinations similar to よう.

In another post the difference was explained for そうだ and ようだ. Here I'm asking that can you explain what そう means for the other scenarios like そうに/な (compared to よう).

For example in the following sentence:

"They looked like very kind parents."

What is the difference from よう in this example or other possible combinations?

  • this post asks for other scenarios
    – hhoomn
    Jul 21, 2019 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


~そうな is generally used in a context of "seems like" based on appearances.

~ような is generally used when you're talking about a resemblance to something. In other words, ~ような is more directly related to the English concept of a simile, A like a B.

For example:


"She seems like a nice person."


"She looks like a maid."


"That cake looks delicious."


"That cake is fluffy like a cloud."

As you can see, the difference is subtle, but important.

In both cases, the difference of na/ni comes down to adjectival vs adverbial forms.

そうに~ Would be something along the lines of "seemingly."

Whereas ように~ Still translates as "...like a..." in English, as English has no real equivalent adverbial form.

You can think of it like this: when it's ~な it's always going to expect a noun to modify. When it's ~に it's going to expect a verb to modify:


"looks like/shaped like a bird"


"flew like a bird"


"A building that looks like it'd fall over"


"The building swayed as though it'd fall over"

  • So I guess it is the same as "sou/you da"
    – hhoomn
    Jul 21, 2019 at 19:33
  • Yes. な is often used in place of だ to turn a phrase in copula form (being) into an adjectival form. It's the reason why な adjectives are ended with だ when you want to say "something is..." EX: 「静かな部屋。」 "A quiet room" vs. 「部屋は静かだ。」 "The room is quiet."
    – stix
    Jul 21, 2019 at 19:39
  • Thanks, I think "as though" was a good example.
    – hhoomn
    Jul 21, 2019 at 19:43

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