The sentence


apparently translates to

Mr. Suzuki's not as old as he looks.

However, if we break this sentence down a bit:

  • 見た目: appearance
  • 若く見えます: appears-youngly (or more idiomatically: "seems young")

...it seems to me this sentence is literally comparing an appearance with an appearance. Something like:

As for Suzuki, he appears younger than his appearance.

But what we actually want to do is compare an appearance with an age, right? Something like:

As for Suzuki, he is younger than his appearance.

Question: Can "若く見えます" mean "is young", in addition to just "seems/appears young"? If not, how to make sense of this sentence?

  • This is apparently taken from imabi.net/hodokurai.htm Nov 24, 2022 at 3:07
  • 2
    Yes the sentence should've been either 見た目より若いです (if he looks old for his age) or 実年齢より若く見えます (if he looks young for his age). However, for some reason this sentence didn't strike me as illogical at first... Perhaps I have seen so many similar sentences that my brain may have "corrected" this unconsciously.
    – naruto
    Nov 24, 2022 at 4:36
  • @naruto: Are you the person who runs IMABI? If so, thank you for putting in all of the time to make it so good!
    – George
    Nov 24, 2022 at 4:39
  • 1
    @George No no, I don't run any site for Japanese learners.
    – naruto
    Nov 24, 2022 at 5:01

1 Answer 1


As you said, 見た目より若く見えます is somewhat nonsensical because it suggests that someone looks old and young at the same time.(*) I feel like it at least needs some qualifications, like "his physical features may look old when taken individually but his overall impression is not that of a typical old man". (This is just a made up example, other qualifications are possible.) Perhaps the writer might assume the reader knows the unsaid qualifications so they don't see the need to clarify, though.

* 「見た目より若く見える」 - これって日本語がおかしい、というか矛盾してますよね?

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