539 - そうだ (I hear that)

JLPT N4: そうだ (I hear that)

We've already seen two lessons looking at different uses of そうだ:

- [NDL #532] - JLPT N4: そうだ (appears that)
- [NDL #533] - JLPT N4: そうだ (seems that)

And including this lesson, we have two more to go.

In this particular lesson, we're looking at how そうだ can be used as a "hearsay marker."

That is, we can use そうだ in order to indicate that some information comes from another source.

In English, this can get translated into things like "I hear that," "it is said that," "[someone] told me that," or even "apparently" (e.g. "Apparently Jenny's going to move to Canada").

The source of the information will often be marked using terms like「によると」、「によれば」、and「では」、all of which we can generally translate as "according to."

An example:

今朝のニュースによると、パリでテロがあったそうです
けさ の ニュース によると、 パリ で テロ が あった そうです。
According to the news this morning, there was a terrorist attack in Paris.
Literally: “this morning + の + news + according to, + Paris + で + terrorist attack / terrorism + が + there was + そうです.”

The information being reported is "there was a terrorist attack in Paris," or:

パリでテロがあった

We can indicate that we heard this information from another source by attaching そうだ (in this case we're using the formal そうです):

パリでテロがあったそうです

Finally, we can indicate the source of the information using によると:

今朝のニュースによると + パリでテロがあったそうです
According to the morning news + there was a terrorist attack in Paris + [I am reporting information that I got from another source].


Before そうだ, we can put pretty much any type of word, but it must be in plain form:


Plain Form + そうだ


Simple enough, yeah? However, I think it's worth noting the difference between how, for instance, a noun or na-adjective would be used with this そうだ compared to how these would be used with the "appears that" そうだ which we saw in this lesson.

Specifically, we saw the na-adjective 元気 being used like this:

元気げんき // lively; energetic; [doing] well
元気そうげんきそう // looks lively; looks energetic; looks like [one is] [doing] well

昨日、久しぶりに母に会いました。元気そうで、よかったです。
きのう、 ひさしぶり に はは に あいました。 げんき そうで、 よかった です。
I saw my mother yesterday for the first time in a long time. I was glad to see that she seems to be doing well.
Literally: “yesterday, + after a long while + に + mother + に + met / saw. + seems to be doing well + で, + was good + です.”

When using the "I hear that" そうだ, the copula だ would come between our noun or na-adjective and the ending そうだ.

For example, let's say that you used to work with three people: Mariko, Yuichi, and Daichi. After a while of working together, Mariko and Yuichi fell in love and got married (yay), and then they moved to Fukuoka to take over Mariko's father's business. You still work with Daichi. Yesterday, you spoke on the phone to Mariko, and she told you that Yuichi is doing well. Today at work, you tell Daichi that you spoke to Mariko recently. He asked how Yuichi is doing. You said:

雄一は元気そうです
ゆういち は げんき だ そうです。
She said that Yuichi's doing well.
Literally: "Yuichi + は + (doing) well + だ + そうです."

Since this is hearsay, we must include the だ between 元気 and そうです.

Long story short, put plain form words before the "I hear that" そうだ. Also, when you're using a noun or a na-adjective, "plain form" means including だ or だった before そうだ or そうです.


Another thing worth noting is that in casual language, you'll sometimes hear the だ at the end of そうだ being dropped for the "appears that" そうだ.

For example, in the last lesson we saw:


わあ、おいしそう
わあ、 おいしそう!
Wow, it looks delicious!
Literally: “wow, + looks delicious / looks tasty”

See? There's no だ at the end!

You are very unlikely to ever hear someone drop the だ off of そうだ when they're using the "I hear that" そうだ, though.

Lots of examples...

井上先生によると、今度のテストはそれほど難しくないそうだ
いのうえ せんせい によると、 こんど の テスト は それほど むずかしくない そうだ。
According to Inoue-sensei, the next test won’t be all that difficult.
Literally: “Inoue-sensei + according to, + this time / next time + の + test + は + that much / to that extent + not difficult + そうだ.”


ガイドブックによれば、ワシントン州ではマリファナが合法だそうだ
ガイドブック によれば、 ワシントンしゅう で は マリファナ が ごうほう だ そうだ。
According to the guidebook, marijuana is legal in (the state of) Washington.
Literally: “guidebook + according to, + Washington (state) + では + marijuana + が + legal + だ + そうだ.”


ケニア人の友人の話では、ナイロビは物価が高いそうです
ケニアじん の ゆうじん の はなし では、 ナイロビ は ぶっか が たかい そうです。
According to my Kenyan friend, Nairobi is expensive.
Literally: “Kenyan (person) + の + friend + の + talk + では, + Nairobi + は + prices (in general) / cost of living + が + expensive + そうです.”


お姉ちゃんからのラインによると、レディ・ガガが原宿にいるそうだ
おねえちゃん から の ライン によると、 レディ・ガガ が はらじゅく に いる そうだ。
According to my (older) sister’s Line message, Lady Gaga is in Harajuku.
Literally: “older sister + from + の + Line + according to, + Lady Gaga + が + Harajuku + に + is + そうだ.”


Overall, I probably use the "appears that" そうだ more often than I use the "I hear that" そうだ (the one in this lesson). But both are quite common and useful.

There are also other ways of reporting information that comes from other sources, such as using らしい, which we'll cover in a future N4 lesson.

Well, three そうだ down, one to go. Hang in there!




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