I was learning "そうだ" and came across these two sentences:



The article says the first sentence simply means "that person doesn't seem to go", while the second sentence has the implication that "that person has already gone". My question is why the second sentence has this implication.

Thanks in advance

Edit: Sorry everyone, I misunderstood the article. The second sentence doesn't have that implication. It depends on context. This question will be deleted soon.


1 Answer 1


Well, it's true that そうではない has a usage that you showed, but I don't think it is the main use case of that expression.

The real difference between those two is in the focus of negation. Verb + そう can be roughly translated as "(likely) about to V", where そうではない negates the whole phrase ("not [about to V]"), while そうにない the mood part only ("not likely" or "not about to'").

In actual examples:

  1. 攻めてきそうにない
  2. 攻めてきそうではない

When you are a scout watching the enemy camp, you can say both way. #1 means that you have some confidence that they are not ready to perform an attack, so that you can relax guard, at least for a good while. However, #2 means that you are still not sure whether they are ready to attack; maybe they could attack us in any time, just not immediate (in a moment).

Now, this case:


is as if saying "That person is not (even) about to leave. (S/he's already left!)". This is a quite special and rhetorical context.

Due to the specific time-bound meaning, ~そうにない is only usable when following a verb, and not adjective. See the @snailplane's answer to Confusion about “Seemingly not ~”.

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