659 - らしい (the epitome of)

JLPT N4: らしい (the epitome of; a perfect example of)

In the last lesson, we saw how らしい can mean something like "apparently" or "it seems that."

らしい can also be used to express that "A is a great example of B."

For example, the area around Hachikō (the statue of the famous dog Hachi/Hachikō just outside Shibuya station) is always bustling with people. You might say that this crowded, lively area "captures the essence of Tokyo."

That is, "the area around Hachikō" (=A) is a great example of "Tokyo" (=B).

In such a case, we would say that the area around Hachikō is "Tokyo らしい," like this:


ハチ公周辺はいつも賑わっていて、本当に東京らしいです。
ハチこう しゅうへん は いつも にぎわっていて、 ほんとう に とうきょう らしい です。
The area around Hachikō is always full of people. It’s the perfect example of Tokyo.
Literally: “Hachikō + in the area of + は + always + is bustling with people (and), + truly + Tokyo + らしい + です.”


Quick Construction Note

The word directly before らしい will always be a NOUN.

NOUNらしい
the perfect example of NOUN; captures the essence of NOUN

らしい acts as an i-adjective. So to say that something is "not らしい," you would say that it's らしくない.


To give another example, let's say that you have a female friend with a very feminine-sounding voice.

You could say this about her:


女の子らしい声だよね。
おんなのこ らしい こえ だ よ ね。
She has such a girly voice, huh?
Literally: “girl + らしい + voice + だ + よ + ね.”


However, you could NOT say this if your male friend had a feminine voice. The same exact sentence would be incorrect in that case:


女の子らしい声だよね。
✖ おんなのこ らしい こえ だ よ ね。
✖ He has such a girly voice, huh?
Literally: “girl + らしい + voice + だ + よ + ね.”


When you want to talk about something that seems like (but is not) something else, you can use -っぽい.

For example, if your male friend Edward has a feminine way of talking, you could say this about him:


エドワードの話し方って女の子っぽいよね。
エドワード の はなしかた って おんなのこ っぽい よ ね。
Edward talks like a girl, huh?
Literally: “Edward + の + way of talking + って + girl + っぽい (=-like) + よ + ね.”


Us non-native speakers have a tendency to sound 女の子っぽい (おんなのこっぽい // girly) and/or 子供っぽい (こどもっぽい // childish) when we speak Japanese. For more on using -っぽい, check out this lesson: [NDL #612] - JLPT N2: ~っぽい.


Similar to the contrast between らしい and -っぽい, we should also note that ようだ and みたいだ can be used when something seems like (but is not) something else, but this cannot be done with らしい.

If today's weather is particularly fall-like or autumn-like, and it is currently fall, you can say:


らしい天気ですね。
あき らしい てんき です ね。
This is some typical fall weather, isn’t it?
Literally: “fall + らしい + weather + です + ね.”


However, if today's weather is particularly fall-like or autumn-like, but it is NOT currently fall, you would need to say one of these:


みたいな天気ですね。
あき みたいな てんき です ね。
This is like fall weather, isn’t it?
Literally: “fall + みたいな (=like) + weather + です + ね.”


ような天気ですね。
あき の ような てんき です ね。
This is like fall weather, isn’t it?
Literally: “fall + の + ような (=like) + weather + です + ね.”


In the above sentences, のような is a bit stiffer-sounding than みたいな. For more on these grammatical constructions, see these recent lessons:
- [NDL #644] - JLPT N4: みたいだ (just like)
- [NDL #645] - JLPT N4: ようだ (looks like)


Based on the above explanation, it makes sense that the speaker uses らしいin this sentence:


10月に入って、すっかりらしくなりましたね。
じゅうがつ に はいって、 すっかり あき らしく なりました ね。
Once we got into October, it really started feeling like fall, huh?
Literally: “October + に + enter (and), + completely + fall / autumn + らしく + became + ね.”


らしい became らしく because it is coming right before a verb. In other words, we changed らしい, an adjective, into らしく, an adverb.


Here we see らしい in the negative form, らしくない


うちの猫は人懐っこくて、あまりらしくない
うち の ねこ は ひとなつっこくて、 あまり ねこ らしくない。
Our cat is really sociable; she’s not very cat-like.
Literally: “home + の + cat + は + friendly (to people) (and), + not really + cat + らしくない.”


Sometimes the same NOUN will be repeated before and after らしい, as in the following sentences:


趣味らしい趣味はこれといってありません。
しゅみ らしい しゅみ は これといって ありません。
I don’t really have anything that you’d call a hobby.
Literally: “hobby + らしい + hobby + は + (nothing) worth mentioning + there is not / don’t have.”
Note: For example, the word "hobby" might conjure up images of things like rock climbing, surfing, gardening, etc. But maybe the speaker's "hobbies" are everyday things like doing laundry or watching TV. She suspects that the things that she likes doing don't quite qualify as "hobbies," per se.


忙しくて、もう3日も食事らしい食事をとっていない。
いそがしくて、 もう みっか も しょくじ らしい しょくじ を とっていない。
I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had a solid meal in three days.
Literally: “busy (and), + already + three days + も + meal + らしい + meal + を + am not taking.”


The end!

This is very useful grammar, so it's worth spending some extra time with it.

In particular, I'd compare this lesson with the other lessons mentioned above. It's easy to mix these things up.

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