What is “よう you” and How to Use It

  • April 23, 2018 / Lily Cernak

In this article we will go over the meaning and uses of よう you, a Japanese noun that can mean “appear to be,” “way of…,” “form/style,” or “similar,” depending on the context. Based on those definitions, this noun does not sound especially useful! But looks can be deceiving. If you consume Japanese media, you will run across grammar patterns containing よう you; many of which are also quite handy to know for your own use.

(To view the Japanese grammar section of our Blog, including articles on conjugation patterns, articles on phrases for specific situations (such as eating out or losing something), and lots more, click here!)


About よう you

Technically, よう you can be written using either hiragana (よう) or kanji (). More often than not it is written using hiragana, but sometimes (especially if you are reading a novel, or something written formally) you will see it written in kanji.

The meanings of the kanji you are what you would probably expect. Depending on the context, the kanji can mean: “Appear to be,” “way of…,” “form/style,” or “similar.”

There are quite a few relatively common words that contain the kanji 様 you. For example:

様子 yousu (situation, state of affairs)

多様 tayou (varied)


If you have read our article on kanji on-yomi and kun-yomi (to read it, click here), you are probably thinking that “よう you” must be one of the on-yomi of . You are correct! The most commonly seen kun-yomi for is “さま sama”:

様々 samazama (various)

 

~様 ~sama (Mr/Mrs/Ms [very formal])


One last place that you have seen よう you but not realized it is in the word さようなら sayounara (farewell)! さようなら sayounara is very nearly always written in hiragana, so there are some people even in Japan who do not know which kanji it would be written with. The answer is:

然様なら, or 左様なら

The first set of kanji is the “true” set. 然様なら sayounara, if translated based on these kanji, means “if it seems to be that way.” The second set of kanji has (which means “left”) as the first character instead of , and is a sort of phonetic re-spelling. Either of these characters (左 sa or 然 sa) is probably equally acceptable for use in “sayounara.”

 


Using よう you at the End of a Sentence

Adding よう you at the end of a sentence (followed by either だ da or です desu, since よう you is a noun) changes the sentence to “it appears that [sentence].” For example:

かわちゃんはお腹がペコペコです

Kawa chan wa onaka ga peko peko desu.

Kawa-chan is hungry.

 

かわちゃんはお腹がペコペコなようです

Kawa chan wa onaka ga pekopeko na you desu.

It appears that Kawa-chan is hungry.


When adding よう you to the end of a sentence, whatever word came at the very end of the original sentence must be changed to Plain Form (generally, the tense does not need to be changed):

かわちゃんはもちを全部食べました

Kawa chan wa mochi o zenbu tabemashita.

Kawa-chan ate all the mochi.

 

かわちゃんはもちを全部食べたようです

Kawa chan wa mochi o zenbu tabeta you desu.

It appears that Kawa-chan ate all the mochi.

 

If the last word of the original sentence is a noun, you must put a の no between the noun and the よう you. If the last word of the original sentence is a na-adjective, you must put its な na between the noun and the よう you. If the last word of the original sentence is an i-adjective, you don’t need to put anything (neither な na nor の no) between the adjective and the よう you.

Lastly: In some cases, you may need to conjugate the だ da です desu after the よう you. For example:

かわちゃんはもちを全部食べたようでした

Kawa chan wa mochi o zenbu tabeta you deshita.

It appeared that Kawa-chan ate all the mochi.

 

Using よう you with な na

Placing a な na after a よう you essentially turns that よう you and the word or phrase preceding it into a big na-adjective. Therefore, ような you na is usually directly followed by a noun.

If the word directly before the よう you is also a noun, you must put a の no between that noun and the よう you.

子供の時、かわちゃんのようなカメレオンを飼っていました。

Kodomo no toki, Kawa chan no you na kamereon o katte imashita.

When I was a child, I kept a pet chameleon similar to Kawa-chan.

 

このような文章を見た事がありません。

Kono you na bunshou o mita koto ga ari masen.

I have never seen a sentence similar to this before.

 

誰かがパンを焼いているような匂いがしました。

Dareka ga pan o yaite iru you na nioi ga shi mashita.

There was a smell similar to someone toasting bread.

 

Using よう you with に ni

As we said above, placing a な na after a よう you essentially turns that よう you and the word or phrase preceding it into a big na-adjective. Because changing the な na of a na-adjective into a に ni makes that adjective into an adverb, changing the な na of ような you na into a に ni essentially turns the word or phrase preceding the you into a big adverb.

MugumoguのようなYouTuberになりたいです。

Mugumogu no you na YouTuber ni nari tai desu.

I want to become a YouTuber who is similar to Mugumogu.

 

Mugumoguのように猫動画を作りたいです。

Mugumogu no you ni neko douga o tsukuri tai desu.

I want to make cat videos similarly to Mugumogu.

 

 

ように you ni is an extremely useful part of speech. For the rest of this article, we will briefly discuss some of the most commonly seen grammar patterns that contain ように you ni.

(Mugumogu is the YouTuber owner of the internet-famous Maru the Cat. If you have never watched a Maru video, put that at the top of your to-do list for today!).


So that A will happen/I can do A, I will do B

猫動画をもっと楽に見られるように、新しいスマホを買いました。

Neko douga o motto raku ni mirareru you ni, atarashii sumaho o kai mashita.

So that I can watch cat videos more comfortably, I bought a new smartphone.


Generally speaking, the verb before the ように you ni in this particular grammar pattern should be either a Potential Form verb or an Intransitive verb, and the verb after the ように you ni in this pattern should be a Transitive verb. (Click here for our article on Potential Form verbs, and click here for our article on Intransitive verbs and Transitive verbs).


Describing a change in a situation

猫動画を毎晩見るようになりました

Neko douga o maiban miru you ni narimashita.

It has come to be that I watch cat videos every evening.


Because the actual meaning of よう you is “way” or “form,” [phrase] you ni narimasu means “to become a way/state of [phrase].” The phrase preceding ように you ni can end with any verb, including a verb that is in Potential Form or another conjugated form, as long as the verb is also in present tense and Plain Form (so, for example, 見られる mirareru (“to be able to see“) is fine because it is in present tense and in the Plain Form of Potential Form, but 見られます mirare masu (“to be able to see“) is not fine because while it is present tense, it is in the polite -Masu Form of Potential Form).

パソコンを買ったから、動画が見られるようになりました

Pasokon o katta kara, douga o mirareru you ni nari mashita.

Because I bought a computer, it has come to be that I can watch videos.


(Click here for our article on Plain Form, here for our article on -Masu Form, and here for our article on Potential Form).


Saying you will make a point of doing something

職場で動画を見る時は、イヤホンをつけるようにしてください

Shokuba de douga o miru toki wa, iyahon o tsukeru you ni shite kudasai.

When you watch a video at the workplace, please make a point to put in earphones.

 

 

For this pattern, simply add ようにします you ni shimasu (“to do (something) in form of [verb phrase]“) after a Plain Form verb phrase.

Be careful not to confuse this pattern with the [volitional form verb] to suru pattern, which looks very similar but means “to try to [verb phrase]”:

イヤホンをつけようとします

Iyahon o tsukeyou to shimasu.

I will try to put in earphones.


(Click here for our article on Volitional Form).


Praying or wishing

今年の誕生日に彼氏が猫を買ってくれますように

Kotoshi no tanjoubi ni kareshi ga neko o katte kuremasu you ni.

I make the wish/pray that my boyfriend will buy me a cat for my birthday this year.


To make a wish or a prayer for something, simply add ように you ni to the end of a polite -Masu Form sentence (click here for our article on -Masu Form).


Saying you were told to do something

猫動画をもう見ないで仕事をするように言われました

Neko douga o mou minai de shigoto o suru you ni iware mashita.

I was told to do my work without watching any more cat videos.

 

猫動画を見ないように言われました

Neko douga o minai you ni iware mashita.

I was told to not watch cat videos.


For this pattern, place ように言われました you ni iwaremashita after what it is you were told to do. The thing you were told to do or not do should be in Plain Form and in present tense, even if being told to do it happened in the past. The “was told to” (言われました iwaremashita) at the end of the sentence is in past tense, so the thing you were told to do does not need to be in past tense.


Saying that something feels similar to something else

この猫の動きはダンスしているように見えます

Kono neko no ugoki wa dansu shite iru you ni mie masu.

This cat’s movements appear like it’s dancing.


You can place verbs like 見える mieru (“to be visible”), 聞こえる kikoeru (“to be audible/heard”), and 感じる kanjiru (“to feel”) after [verb phrase] you ni to describe the way something looks, sounds, feels, and so on.

That’s all on よう you for this article!

Are there any uses of よう you that we neglected to cover in this article, but you would like to know more about?

Got any questions about this article, or suggestions for future article topics you’d like to see us write about?

Leave us a comment below!

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