392 - でしょう (seeking agreement)

JLPT N5: でしょう


You might have already heard the expression よね at the end of a sentence. Today we will discuss a similar sentence-ending phrase that has somewhat similar connotations.

You can hear よね or だよね when someone wants the listener to confirm something he is talking about:

今日は月曜日だよね
きょう は げつようび だよね。
Today is Monday, right?
Literally: "today + は + Monday + right? (=だよね)."

Hopefully this seems very intuitive to you. If not, you may want to check back at Niko's explanations of よ and ね in this lesson: [NDL #384] - Basics: Using Na-Adjectives.

But now there is a new expression. Well, actually two new ones, again with a difference in formality level: でしょう and だろう.

でしょう sounds a little softer and is the formal expression of the two.
だろう is rougher-sounding and more casual.

In a way, the difference between these two is similar to that of です and だ.

でしょう and だろう can be used at the end of sentences when the speaker is seeking agreement or verification from the listener, or expressing sympathy for the listener.

When we force the nuance of でしょう and だろう into English phrases, they often get translated as "isn't it?", "don't you think?", "right?"

Let's look at an example:

A:
このトマト、わたしが庭で育てたの。おいしいでしょう
この トマト、 わたし が にわ で そだてた の。 おいしい でしょう。
I grew this tomato in my own garden. It's delicious, isn't it?
Literally: "this + tomato, + I + が + garden + で + grew + の. + delicious + isn't it?"
Note: The の at the end of the first sentence makes the sentence sound feminine.

B:
うん、すごくおいしい。
うん、 すごく おいしい。
Yeah, it's very good!
Literally: "Yes + extremely + delicious."

In this sentence, A is asking for confirmation that B shares her opinion that her tomatoes are delicious.


Construction

でしょう and だろう come after the plain form of verbs, nouns, and adjectives.

Specifically, in this lesson we'll see でしょう and だろう after these words:

Plain form i-adjective + でしょう/だろう
おいしいでしょう
delicious でしょう

Plain form verb + でしょう/だろう
あるでしょう
is でしょう

Noun / na-adjective + でしょう/だろう
だろう
かたち だろう
shape だろう

誕生日でしょう
たんじょうび でしょう
birthday でしょう

There is also a somewhat unique formation:

plain past tense copula + でしょう/だろう
だったでしょう
was でしょう

Although we cannot say でしょう or だろう, when we want to use the past tense we can say だったでしょう and だっただろう. In very casual language, this is sometimes shortened to だったろう.

I didn't translate the meanings of でしょう and だろう above because that would be difficult to do without any context. You'll see how these phrases become natural English translations in the following examples.


Here we see another example of a speaker seeking the agreement of the listener:

A:
ぼくの鼻、面白いだろう。お母さんからの遺伝なんだ。
ぼく の はな、 おもしろい かたち だろう。 おかあさん から の いでん なんだ。
My nose has an interesting shape, don't you think? I got it from my mother.
Literally: "my + の + nose + interesting + shape / form + isn't it? + mother + から + heredity + なんだ."

B:
ほんとうだ。面白い形だね。
ほんとう だ。 おもしろい かたち だ ね。
You're right, it is an interesting shape.
Literally: "true + だ + interesting + shape / form + だね."


In the following dialogue, person B is not seeking agreement with their usage of でしょう. Rather, they are simply expressing sympathy for the listener (person A):

A:
庭の草むしり終わったよ。
にわ の くさむしり おわった よ。
I finished weeding the garden!
Literally: "garden + の + weeding + finished + よ."

B:
ありがとう。大変だったでしょう
ありがとう。 たいへん だった でしょう。
Thank you. It must have been tough work.
Literally: "thank you + tough / difficult / trying + だった + wasn't it?"



Sometimes でしょう and だろう will be used to elicit verification from the listener. In other words, it is used when you point out some information that the listener has access to. This is the usage we see in our last two examples:

A:
このぶどう、いくらだろう。
この ぶどう、 いくら だろう。
I wonder how much these grapes cost.
Literally: "this + grape, + how much + I wonder."

B:
500円だよ。ほら、ここに書いてあるだろう
ごひゃくえん だよ。 ほら、 ここ に かいてある だろう。
It's 500 yen. Look, it's written right here.
Literally: "500 Yen + だよ. + look + here + に + is written + isn't it?"
Note: You may be confused as to why 書く (かく // to write) has become 書いてある. We use ~てある to express that something has been set, placed, or done in a way with a certain objective in mind. In other words, it can describe the ongoing state of something. There will be an N4 lesson on this in the future.

Don't be confused here. We got だろう two times in the last two sentences but they each mean different things. The first one is expressing wonder. The second one is the one we are covering today. We will look at the other one another time.


A:
あしたは奥さんの誕生日でしょう。なにかするつもりですか?
あした は おくさん の たんじょうび でしょう。 なにか する つもり ですか?
Tomorrow's your wife's birthday, isn't it? Are you planning on doing something?
Literally: "tomorrow + は + (your) wife + の + birthday + isn't it? + something + do + intention + ですか."

B:
ええ、妻の好きなレストランに行く予定です。
ええ、 つま の すきな レストラン に いく よてい です。
Yes, we're planning on going to her favorite restaurant.
Literally: "yes + (my) wife + の + preferred + restaurant + に + go + plan + です."



So to just sum it up once again: でしょう and だろう are used at the end of a sentence to seek confirmation or verification, or to express sympathy. でしょう is the formal counterpart to だろう.

There will be a few more lessons about でしょう in the future to make a few more distinctions.

Also, check out these old NDLs looking at でしょう and だろう:

[NDL #85] - This beat is fire, right? - Part I
[NDL #86] - This beat is fire, right? - Part II
[NDL #87] - This beat is fire, right? - Part III
[NDL #89] - This beat is fire, right? - Part IV
[NDL #90] - This beat is fire, right? - Part V


This lesson was written by Dennis, a guest contributor:





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