On various grammar websites, I read that 行きそうだ can only mean "it looks like (he's) going", and if I want to convey the meaning "(I) heard that (he's) going" (hearsay) I need to use 行くそうだ. However, this BondLingo page says:

Verb stem + sou (“It looks like it’s going to…”, “I heard that…”)

and provides numerous examples (see below).

So is this grammatical distinction not very strict, and people use stem+そう to represent hearsay as well? Is it more common in certain styles of speech?

regular stem form

potential form stem form


1 Answer 1


To answer your question, stem + そう can't express hearsay. I believe that they mistyped or something.

Verb stem + そう expresses the following two things.

  1. It seems like something is about to happen.
  2. It looks like (It's used when you look at it and think so. It represents the "feel" received from the appearance.)

Some example sentences are below.


hey! The button seems to have come off!


I shopped too much and my bag is about to burst.


Tanaka has many cars and seems to have money.

These two can sometimes be taken as either meaning, but you can determine which one the speaker meant by the context.

Plain form + そう:hearsay

When you want to express, or convey, information you have seen or heard from others, plain form + そう should be used.

Some example sentences are below.


I heard that there will be a festival in the park tomorrow.


I heard that there will be no Japanese test next week.


I heard that there was an earthquake in Tokyo yesterday.


I heard that my father didn't have much money when he was a child.


  • I have listed only the verb sentences.
  • The part without "masu (ます) " is called the stem of the verb (Verb stem). For example, たべ (たべます) , し(します), あり(あります).
  • The term "Verb Stem" is confusing, unless a definition is provided.
    – user1602
    Sep 28, 2022 at 4:40
  • @user1602 Thanks for pointing that out! I will try to edit it soon :)
    – Miki
    Sep 29, 2022 at 2:10

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