652 - ようだ (seems that)

Before getting into this lesson, I highly recommend reviewing the usage of みたい that we just looked at in this lesson: [NDL #651] - JLPT N4: みたいだ (looks like).

The "みたいだ of conjecture" is basically a more conversational version of this lesson's grammar form:


JLPT N4: ようだ (seems that)

Adding ようだ to the end of a phrase gives it the meaning of "it seems that [phrase]" or "it would appear that [phrase].

For example, we could say:


このオルガン、壊れているようです。音が鳴りません。
この オルガン、 こわれている ようです。 おと が なりません。
This organ seems to be broken. It doesn’t make any sound.
Literally: “this + organ, + is breaking + ようです. + sound + が + doesn’t ring / doesn’t sound.”

We can refer to this as "the ようだ of conjecture."

The speaker in the above sentence does not know whether the organ is broken. Rather, the speaker is simply guessing (←conjecture) that it is broken since it's not making any sound.

Similarly, you could say something like:


キッチンにアボカドとトルティーヤが置いてある。今日の夕飯はメキシコ料理ようだ
キッチン に アボカド と トルティーヤ が おいて ある。 きょう の ゆうはん は メキシコ りょうり の ようだ。
There are avocados and tortillas on the kitchen counter. It would appear that [Apparently] we’re having Mexican food for dinner.
Literally: “kitchen + に + avocado + と + tortilla + が + have been placed (=place [and] + there are). + today + の + dinner + は + Mexican food + の + ようだ.”
Note: We can imagine that the speaker is thinking this to himself or herself.

The speaker does not know for certain whether his or her family is having Mexican food tonight. The speaker is just guessing that this is the case because of the ingredients that have been placed in the kitchen. That is, it seems that dinner will be Mexican food.


👷 Construction 👷

ようだ comes after words in the plain form. You can put plain-form VERBS and i-adjectives just as they are before ようだ. When putting a na-adjective before ようだ, you need to add . When putting a NOUN before ようだ, you need to add .

Plain Form Word + ようだ

We'll see:
Plain-Form VERBようだ
NOUNようだ
Na-adjectiveようだ


Here's another example:


昨日からちょっと喉が痛い。風邪をひいたようだ
きのう から ちょっと のど が いたい。 かぜ を ひいた ようだ。
My throat has been hurting a bit since yesterday. It seems that I’ve got a cold.
Literally: “yesterday + from / since + a little bit + throat + が + painful. + caught a cold (=a cold + を + pulled) + ようだ.”
Note: I don't think this ひいた actually means "pulled," as 風邪をひく is an idiomatic phrase. But I enjoyed memorizing it this way back in the day.


And another:


息子は算数が苦手ようだ
むすこ は さんすう が にがてな ようだ。
It seems that math is not my son’s strong point.
Literally: “son + は + arithmetic + が + not very good at / weak in + ようだ.”


We can also use ようだ when we want to avoid making a definitive statement.

That is, it can act as a softener.

In the following sentence, for example, the speaker does not want to outright say "Takada-san was really drunk last night," so he uses ようでした at the end of his sentence:


昨日、高田さんはかなり酔っぱらっているようでした
きのう、 たかださん は かなり よっぱらっている ようでした。
Takada-san seemed pretty drunk yesterday [last night].
Literally: “yesterday, + Takada-san + は + rather / quite + is being drunk + ようでした.”


Although "the ようだ of conjecture" is very important, and you certainly need to be a master of it, I don't find myself using it very often in spoken language.

I use, and hear people using, "the みたいだ of conjecture" much more often in spoken Japanese.




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