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I've just studied そう (as in: seems like; about to) in class and I wanted to know why you can use some verbs and not others.

For instance, 雨が{あめが}降りそう{ふりそう} works out semantically and grammatically, as does 落ちそう{おちそう}. But why doesn't a verb like 治る{なおる} work (治りそう)? My teacher said that it's grammatical but it doesn't make sense.

Is it something about lexical aspect? Or is it a specific class of verbs, like 'break'/'hit' verbs, for example?

I've done some digging but I'm not sure what to look up next. Any help would be appreciated.

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    Maybe 治りそう just didn't make sense in the context of a sentence it was placed in. If you presented it to the teacher in a sentence that she thought didn't make sense it would be useful for us to know what that sentence was. – BJCUAI Aug 25 at 7:25
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    治りそう makes perfect sense when you've heard about a promising therapeutic method, for example. What was the original sentence? – naruto Aug 25 at 8:18
  • It was along the lines of 風邪が治りそう. – Beza ベザ Aug 25 at 12:55
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    風邪が治りそう is definitely used. 食べそう is also used. For example, もうすぐ食べそう (When you feed an animal), 食べそうになりました (When your hair was in your mouth) – Yamacure Aug 25 at 15:29
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    Pure speculation, but maybe your teacher thought that using a form of 治りかける was more appropriate? I would bring it up with them again and make a point of finding out what they suggest using in place of 治りそう. – BJCUAI Aug 25 at 20:28
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風邪が治りそう is grammatically valid, but it refers to a future expectation based on the current appearance/situation of something. For example, you can use 風邪が治りそう like this:

  • 来週には風邪は治りそうです。
    (Judging from the current situation,) Looks like my cold is going to get cured by next week.
  • この料理を食べたら風邪が治りそうです。
    This dish appears almost like it can cure a cold if you eat it.

If you wanted to say "I'm (gradually / in the process of) recovering from a cold", you have to say 風邪は治りかけです or 風邪は治っているところです. If you wanted to say "I have almost recovered from a cold", you have to say 風邪はほとんど治りました.

  • Thank you! I was over-analyzing things and trying to figure out if there was any semantics-related restrictions on which verbs you can use with そう. I see now that that it's mostly situation dependent, i.e. as long as it makes sense in context, you can use any verb with そう. Side note, I'm actually not familiar with the grammar points you use to express the process/gradually doing X verb, so I'll be looking into that next. – Beza ベザ Aug 27 at 11:32
  • @Beza You can read this answer for ているところ. – naruto Aug 27 at 11:35
  • Will do! Also thank you for answering my first question on the site! :) – Beza ベザ Aug 27 at 11:36

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