These are complicated words (at least to me) and I'm aware that they have multiple meanings, but in the context of describing the appearance of someone/something how do 様子, 姿 and 格好 differ? To what extent are they interchangeable?

1 Answer 1


Basic differences (of relevant meanings of those words) are:

  • 様子 is modified by phrases saying about inner state. So it could be defined as an inner/mental state appearing outside.
  • 姿 is an overall outward appearance
  • 恰好 is also an outward appearance, but more specifically about clothes. It can refer to a shape as well.

By examples:

  1. 心配そうな{〇様子, △姿, ×恰好} look of being worried
  2. 心配している{△様子, 〇姿, ×恰好} a figure who is worried
  3. みすぼらしい{×様子, 〇姿, 〇恰好} shabby implying poor clothes

△ for 心配している様子 is a bit exaggerating, but 心配している implies that it is a fact, not inferred. 様子 fits less naturally.

  • 山の様子 how the mountain is - if it is rainy, about to erupt etc.
  • 山の姿 how the mountain looks - the appearance of the actual mountain.
  • (山の恰好 is an abbreviated form of 山向けの恰好, outfit for mountain climbing)

Cf. Relevant thesaurus entries.

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