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I was reading the textbook 日本語総まとめ N3 and in one of the sections there are shown 2 meanings ように can assume: first for providing explanations (ex.: ここに書いてあるように、今度の木曜日、授業は午前中だけです and 皆さまご存じのように、試験の内容が変わります) and second for showing hope towards an outcome (ex.: 母が治りますように).

What I found strange is that it says when using the second form the preceding verb has to be in 連用形 (like 治ります, as opposed to 治る in the previous example). And besides the fact I think I've already heard it being used with the preceding verb in 終止形, it seems even more strange to me because it seems that in all other situations よう is used the previous clause always has to be in plain form. Here are some examples to illustrate:

  • 風邪が早く治るように、病院で薬をもらった。
  • 長年ギターを練習し続けた末、やっとよく弾けるようになりました。
  • いつでも大切な人に力になれるような優しい男になりたい。
  • 忘れ物をしないようにしましょう。

So, is it really correct that in the particular case of showing hope towards an outcome the preceding verb has to be in 連用形? If it can be used both in 終止形 and 連用形, are there any differences in meaning? Would that also apply to any other usages of よう?

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    I've already heard it being used with the preceding verb in 終止形 -- (Don't mean to nitpick but) ように/ような (< auxiliary ようだ) follows 連体形 (attributive form), not 終止形. eg 「好きように」, not 「好きように」. 治る in 治るように is 連形. the preceding verb has to be in 連用形 (like 治ります -- Hmm? 治ります in 治りますように is not 連用形 but 連体形. ように directly follows the 連形 of the auxiliary ます.
    – Chocolate
    Jul 4 at 16:55
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First of all, do you understand what 連用形 is? The 連用形 of 治る are not 治ります but 治り and 治っ. And 連用形 never directly connects to よう whatsoever. 治りように and 治っように are both grammatically incorrect no matter what. See: Do I have a good grasp on the basics of what the continuative form is?

This is because よう is a special type of noun called 形式名詞. Since it's technically a noun, you need an attributive (noun-modifying; 連形) form to modify よう. So please check if your textbook really says 連用形. If it really says 連用形, it should be a typo.

よう has several meanings, but it takes an attributive form regardless of its meaning (the following is not a full list):

  1. ように meaning "in order to ~"
    • 忘れ物をしないようにしましょう。
    • 風邪が早く治るように病院で薬をもらった。
  2. ように meaning "like/as"
    • ここに書いてあるように
    • ご存じのように
  3. (ます)ように used to make a wish upon a star/god/etc.
    • 母が治りますように。
    • 神のご加護がありますように。 May the God's blessing be with you.

Note that 連体形 and 終止形 look very similar in modern Japanese, so your textbook may be using 終止形 instead of 連体形 to explain this. Strictly speaking, this form is 連体形, as Chocolate explains.

The third usage is a special construction derived from the first one. It's almost always used with ます because you have to be polite in front of a god, etc.

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I believe the book is referring to a special construction where a sentence ends with ように. It is used in a prayer, and therefore, it is not said to any particular person (but to a god or something). And, yes, it is preceded by the ます-form of a verb.

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