402 - かのように

I was on a Japanese learning thread online recently when someone mentioned that they sometimes learn by writing short stories in Japanese. I think when you get to N2 level, it is a great time to start trying to read a lot of native material, but I never thought so much about writing.

Writing in Japanese would boost your speaking abilities, your vocabulary, and help you start thinking in Japanese. The only writing I have done is essays in class, but I feel inspired to try a write a simple story of my own.

And if we are going to be writing in Japanese, we will want to use similes. Similes are a natural way of describing something in English, by using something to describe something else. “Her face was flushed like a rose.” We do this all the time to evoke imagery when we are writing.

There are a lot of ways to do this in Japanese, but today I want to go over the N2 grammar point かのように. Which is best translated as “(seems) as if.”

Here is the construction:

Vplain + かのように
紙でできているかのように
かみ で できている かのように
(seems) as if it's made of paper

Noun/Na-Adjective + (である) + かのように
双子であるかのように
ふたご である かのように
(seems) as if they're twins
Note: The である is technically optional.

Note that we only need to have to have the に at the end of かのよう when it is followed by a verb or an adjective.

If it's followed by a noun, we can say ~かのよう.

When it is followed by です or だ, we can just say かのよう.

Examples of each are included below.


長女と次女は顔も行動もそっくりで、まるで双子であるかのようだ。
ちょうじょ と じじょ は かお も こうどう も そっくり で、 まるで ふたごである かのようだ。
My oldest daughter and second daughter have similar faces and act the same way. It's just like they're twins.
Literally: “oldest daughter + and + second daughter + は + face + も + behaviors + も + exactly alike, + で + just like / as if + twins + である + seems as if.”


彼女は幸せであるかのように見えるが、実は大きな悩みをかかえている。
かのじょ は しあわせである かのように みえる が、 じつは おおきな なやみ を かかえている。
She seems as if she is happy, but in reality she is dealing with a great worry.
Literally: “she + は + happy + seems as if + seems + が, + in fact + big + worry + を + holding onto.”


わたしの自転車は紙でできているかのように軽い。
わたし の じてんしゃ は かみ で できている かのように かるい。
My bike is so light it seems as if it's made of paper.
Literally: “I + の + bike + は + paper + で + made of + seems as if + light.”


伊藤さんにその話をすると、初めて聞いたかのような反応をした。
いとうさん に その はなし を する と、 はじめて きいた かのような はんのう を した。
When I talked to Itou-san about that, he reacted as if it was the first time he'd heard it.
Literally: “Itou-san + に + that + story + を + do + と, + first time + heard + seems as if + reaction + を + did.”


There is one exception to our construction, one case in which we don't have a plain-form verb or "Noun/Na-Adjective + (である)" in front of かのように:


あいつは動物をおもちゃか何かのように扱っている。許せない。
あいつ は どうぶつ を おもちゃ か なにかのように あつかっている。 ゆるせない。
That guy treats animals like they're toys or something. Unforgivable.
Literally: “that guy + は + animal + を + toy + か + as if it's some sort of + handling + unforgivable”


In the above sentence か何か is used before the grammar point. This is actually an idiom that means “sort of” or “something belonging to a similar category.“


Now it's your turn! Can you come up with a short story in Japanese using this grammar point? Why don’t you look at some other N2 grammar points and try to use a few of them?


This lesson was written by Cassy L., a guest contributor:


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