540 - そうだ (about to)

JLPT N4: そうだ (about to)

This is our final そうだ lesson!

We've already seen these three:

- [NDL #532] - JLPT N4: そうだ (appears that)
- [NDL #533] - JLPT N4: そうだ (seems that)
- [NDL #539] - JLPT N4: そうだ (I hear that)

The そうだ that we're looking at in this lesson is used to express that something seems as though it's about to happen.

For example, let's say that you're really sick. Your roommate is driving you to the doctor, and you start to feel like you're going to throw up. You could say:

吐きそう
はきそう。
I think I'm gonna be sick.
Literally: "about to throw up."

We take the verb 吐く (はく), which in this case means "to throw up; to vomit" (in other situations, it can just mean "to spit").

We put it into ます-form, giving us 吐きます (はきます // throw up; vomit; spit).

Then we drop off the ます, which leaves us with the ます-stem, 吐き- (はき-), and we add そう

吐きそう (はきそう // about to throw up; about to vomit)


Put more simply, the construction is:

V ます そう


This usage of そうだ is extremely common. If you're living in a Japanese-speaking environment, then I wouldn't be surprised if you heard it every day.

As such, let's look at lots of examples!


靴下に穴があきそうだ。
くつした に あな が あきそうだ。
My sock is getting a hole in it.
Literally: “sock + に + hole + が + about to open.”



あ、ガソリンがなくなりそうだ。先にガソリンスタンドに行こう。
あ、 ガソリン が なくなりそうだ。 さき に ガソリンスタンド に いこう。
Oh, I’m almost out of gas. I think I’ll go to a gas station first. // Oh, we’re almost out of gas. Let’s go to a gas station first.
Literally: “ah, + gasoline + が + about to be gone. + before + に + gas station (= “gasoline stand”) + に + let’s go.”


Like the "appears that" そう which we saw in this lesson, the "about to" そう acts as a na-adjective.

Because of this, when followed by a noun, it will be "~そうな + NOUN," as in the following example:


大丈夫?死にそうな顔してるよ。
だいじょうぶ? しにそうな かお してる よ。
Are you OK? You don’t look good.
Literally: “OK? + about to die + face + are doing + よ.”


You'll notice that the "about to" そう is often followed by になる, "to become," as in this example:


先週の台風の時、庭の木が倒れそうになりました。
せんしゅう の たいふう の とき、 にわ の き が たおれそうに なりました。
During the typhoon last week, the tree in our yard looked like it was about to fall over.
Literally: “last week + の + typhoon + の + time, + garden + の + tree + が + about to fall over + に + became.”


When you wish to make a negative sentence—that is, when you wish to say that something is "not about to VERB"—then you can put そうもない (or more formally, そうもありません) after your ます-stem verb:


ひじの骨折は、まだまだ治りそうもありません
ひじ の こっせつ は、 まだまだ なおりそうもありません。
My broken elbow doesn’t seem to be anywhere near being healed.
Literally: “elbow + の + broken bone + は, + still far [still some way] to go + is not about to heal.”


Congratulations! If you've also read all of the lessons linked to at the beginning of this lesson, then you are now finished studying そうだ.

Of course, being able to use these grammatical forms in the Japanese that you personally produce will still be a challenge, so be sure to get lots of speaking and/or writing practice.

Or you can be like me and procrastinate about that stuff for the next two years—you'll suck at speaking, but at least you'll understand a lot. ^^




Noticed any typos we've missed or other issues?
Report them here at this link.

Have questions about something in this lesson? Something not quite clicking yet? Join our discord community and discuss any questions / comments with us and fellow students.
You can join by heading to this link.