I wanted to learn more about よう constructs, in particular the かのよう(な)(に) and かのようだ constructs, so I did some research. The following is what I've found so far.

よう - a noun that can turn into a modifying noun or a adjective depending on whether a の or な exists on either end (see below). source 1

のよう - modifies previous noun in “noun + のよう” construct as の “links” the よう to the noun. - source 1

ような - the な-adjective version of よう, from my understanding of this

のように - "Noun A のように" is used when describing an action which is "done in the same way as A" or a characteristic "which is comparable to A". Source: Genki II Second Edition Textbook, page 239

のような - "Noun A のような noun B" means "a B like/similar to A." "A のような B" means that "B" has the same quality(ies) or appearance as A, or A is a example of "B". Source: Genki II Second Edition Textbook, page 239

かのよう - Found nothing so far.

かのような  "Verb Phrase + かのような + Noun" = "(Noun) as if (Verb Phrase)" and forms a metaphorical expression or simile Source

かのようだ translates as ‘(seems) as if...’ or ‘(seems) as if perhaps...’ Source: this answer here

I am stumped as to what かのように means in comparison to かのような, and かのようだ are, as I don't have a possible translation for かのように, possible grammar functions, nor have I been able to find any questions asking about かのように specifically other than this question. Unfortunately, the asker claims to already "understand fine how to use 〜(の)よう{に・な・だ}". thereby leaving me in the dark as to how it is used. (Any clarification/explanation/rant on かのように alone will be much apricated.)

Is the above research correct as far as to what each construct means, and what they are used for/as?


Some example sentences shown below.

1) 自分の技術を自慢するかのように、 嬉しそうに話す銀髪の男。

2) 自分のことなのに、まるで他人{ひと}のことを思い出しているかのようだ

3) 軍隊で使うような、重くて厚みのあるサバイバルナイフ。

4) 品定めをするかのような, 射貫{いね}くような眼差{まなざ}をこちらに向けながら.


1 Answer 1


You list several constructions.


The core of all of these is the word よう ("likeness, that-ness"), usually functioning more as an adjective meaning "like / similar to / as if [whatever came before in the sentence]". All the rest of it is particles and auxiliaries. These seem to be what's confusing you, so let's look at these in turn.

As you note, this can be used to modify one noun with another noun. This is often a matter of possession, like 犬​[の]{●}​本 (the dog​'s book), but sometimes it's a different kind of modification, such as 青[の]{●}ドレス (a blue dress), putting the emphasis on the noun after the の. This is called attributive usage, where we're using the の to define an attribute or quality of the following noun.

For all the constructions above with のよう, the basic meaning is "like / similar to / as if [the thing before the の]".

This is similar to the attributive use of の to modify a noun. な is specific to a certain class of adjectives, often called -na adjectives in English. This な allows us to use the whole よう phrase attributively, to modify something else with a description. ベンチのよう[な]{●}椅子 ("a chair like a bench"), 殴られたよう[な]{●}感じ ("a feeling like having been punched").

Also used with the -na adjectives, this is like the -ly suffix in English: it turns a -na adjective into an adverb.

This is the generic copula, or "to be" verb, in the plain form. The polite form is です, which I'm sure you've probably heard before. Use either plain or polite, depending on the social context of when you say or write this.

だ and です are used to form a predicate or the end of sentence, when we don't have another verb happening (or one of the so-called "-i adjectives", which we won't go into right now). So to use a -na adjective as the predicate of a sentence, we have to put だ after the adjective.

As an example for how to use the three pieces な・に・だ, let's look at the -na adjective 静【しず】か ("quiet").

  • If we want to say that "this is a quiet car", we're modifying (describing) the word "car" with the word "quiet", so we have to use the attributive な after the adjective and before the noun:

  • If we want to say that "this car goes quietly", we're modifying or describing a quality of the verb, not the noun, so we have to use the adverb form:

  • If we just want to say "this car is quiet", we're making a statement where the "quiet" part is the predicate, so we have to use the copula after the adjective:

This is the same thing as the sentence-ending question-mark particle か. This can be used after a phrase to indicate uncertainty or vagueness about that phrase.

To illustrate this, let's look at a contrastive pair of similar constructions.

  • 犬【いぬ】かのように振【ふ】る舞【ま】う
    to behave kind of like a dog
  • 犬【いぬ】のように振【ふ】る舞【ま】う
    to behave like a dog

Or we could look at a verb construction, as suggested by Chocolate in the comments.

  • 春【はる】が来【き】たかのようだ
    It is kind of like spring has come / it seems that spring may have arrived.
  • 春【はる】が来【き】たようだ
    It is like spring has come / it seems that spring has arrived.

The か softens the statement and makes it a bit vaguer.

I hope the above clarifies things for you. Please comment if you have any remaining confusion and I or another contributor can edit this post or post separately.

Incidentally, you might find this related answer useful in your studies.

  • 2
    I agree, when one realises that all the constructions listed here with よう are just different ways that enable this word to be combined with multiple kinds of words and expressions, but always carrying this meaning of "likeness" or "that-ness", these forms become far easier to grasp. No need to overcomplicate it by learning each form in an isolated way
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 22:30
  • 2
    @jarmanso7 I see, so each of the constructions above are just different combinations of particles and auxiliaries with よう. I originally thought they were some kind of grammar expression or form, but it appears that's not the case.
    – Toyu_Frey
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 22:51

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