So basically I read something saying the difference between に似る and と似る is that と marks one side of a mutual relationship and に only shows the standard of comparison, but I have no idea what that means so can someone help? Here are the example sentences it came with:


Apparently the only one wrong is the last one and I'm super confused as to why.

  • Not necessarily wrong IMO. Nov 24, 2019 at 3:55
  • 4
    明鏡国語辞典 says: 「と」は相互関係にある一方を表すので、「父[子]は子[父]と似ている」という言い方が可能だが、「に」は比較の基準を表すので、「(顔立ちが)子は父に似ている」とは言えても「父は子に似ている」とは言い難い。
    – chocolate
    Nov 24, 2019 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


When you see a father and a son together no one would ever say to the father "you look just like your son", but it would be perfectly natural to say "your son looks just like you".

In this example the father is the 'standard of comparison', so if you are going to use に it should be attached only to the father.

と treats both parties equally, so you can add it to either the father or the son (or both).

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