According to the NHK pitch accent dictionary, そう has Heiban pitch when used as an adverb (副詞):

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and Atamadaka pitch when used as an interjection:

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Question: Despite the above, the phrase 「そうですね」parses そう as having Atamadaka pitch in Yomichan:

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Here そう is being used as an Adverb, no? So shouldn't that mean it takes Heiban pitch? Or is it that the whole phrase 「そうですね」 is being used as an interjection, so that そう takes on Atamadaka pitch?

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    Nov 1, 2022 at 20:58
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    Nov 1, 2022 at 21:14
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    Nov 1, 2022 at 21:18
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    – George
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    That's just how it is. You shouldn't be asking "why" with these things.
    – aguijonazo
    Nov 1, 2022 at 23:12

2 Answers 2


The actual rule is that そう is heiban when it directly modifies the following predicate, but gets an accent when anything attaches to it (は、だ、です、か、も、さ, etc).


You should note that the そ\うは case in particular really breaks the simple “adverb=heiban” model presented by NHK.

  • How did you determine this rule? If it's from a dictionary, perhaps I should add it to my collection :-)
    – George
    Nov 2, 2022 at 0:36
  • Also, did I misinterpret the NHK dictionary entries above? Could this rule have been inferred from them?
    – George
    Nov 2, 2022 at 0:37
  • “How did you determine this rule?” My ears + brain. “Also, did I misinterpret the NHK dictionary entries above?” Nope. Nov 2, 2022 at 0:44
  • In your experience, is it rare or common that NHK gets things wrong like this?
    – George
    Nov 2, 2022 at 0:53
  • 1
    NHK gets stuff wrong fairly often. But it’s still one of the best resources. Nov 2, 2022 at 3:37

"Here そう is being used as an Adverb, no" Nope, that's a noun followed by copula

  • My dictionary (which could be wrong) says it's an adverb: jpdb.io/vocabulary/2137720/%E3%81%9D%E3%81%86?lang=english#a Could it be a noun that can also function as an adverb?
    – George
    Nov 1, 2022 at 23:00
  • If it's a noun, then NHK doesn't specify how it should be pronounced?
    – George
    Nov 1, 2022 at 23:01
  • 1
    @George what in that entry suggests it's an adverb in そうですね? To me it seems perfectly reasonable to look at it as just a polite version of the interjection.
    – Leebo
    Nov 1, 2022 at 23:31
  • My take on 「そうですね」 is that this is the polite interjection. Ah, ya, as Leebo stated just a bit ago (had the page open for a while and didn't refresh :)) Nov 1, 2022 at 23:56
  • technically almost everything you call "adverbs" in japanese are actually just nouns used in such a way so they appear to modify verbs, in this case there's no verb. So the best way is to think of it is noun. Because you don't treat adverbial word alone as a statement of itself.
    – TIM RUM
    Nov 3, 2022 at 18:36

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