Today I will wirte about a common question, which is "How different are sou, rashii, you and mitai?" I hope many of you are interested in this topic. Here we go.
First of all, I will divide these four words into two groups,: hearing and seeing. “sou 1” and “rashii” go to the hearing group and “sou 2”, “you” and “mitai” go to the seeing one.
Let’s start with the hearing group, sou 1 and rashii. Use “sou” when the information you heard is certain to be true. Use “rashii” when it is not certain. This is the difference between these two.
This is a situation in which you tell your friend about the weather forecast after watching it: ashita wa ame ga furu sou da yo. (I heard it would rain tomorrow.) (This is a common example in textbooks.)
This is a situation in which you tell your friend a rumor: Tanaka san wa kaisha wo yameru rashii yo. (I heard that Tanaka was going to quit his job, but I am not certain of it.)Please remember to use “rashii” when you tell someone a gossipy type of story. It is not that difficult, then.
Now, I will write about the seeing group, “sou 2, you, and mitai”. It is ok to think “you” and “mitai” are the same, so let’s compare “sou” and “you / mitai”.
In this sentence, you predict that it will be raining soon. In other words, you form an opinion about a future possibility by seeing a current state. In this next sentence, you also predict the possibility of a store closing down while looking at it.While you are looking at the sky, the clouds got bigger and the sky got darker: mousugu ame ga furi sou da ne. (It is likely to rain.)
You are looking at a store that is in business, but never has any customers: kono mise wa tsubure sou da ne. (It is likely that this store will close down.)On the other hand, use “you / mitai” when you judge something from what you are seeing and describe a current state. A possibility that a store is almost closing is not talked about in the next example.
You are actually seeing the staff cleaning a shop or tiding up products: kono mise wa tsubureru you da ne. (It seems that this store is closing down.)Let’s look at another pair of examples.
Here is a situation that you see your friend studying hard every day: kare wa test ni goukaku shi sou da ne. (He is likely to pass an exam.) (predicting future possibility)
Now you see your friend being happy after an examination: kare wa test ni goukaku shita mitai da ne. (It seems that he has passed an exam.) (judging what you are seeing and then making a conclusion)Finally, I would like to introduc how Japanese actually differentiate these words. I realized that there are a lot of certainies, uncertainties and therefore a judgment based on what you see in history books. So, I will quote several sentences from one book of historical research. (*1) You know a Japanese company called Mitsubishi, don’t you? I am quoting from childhood stories of the founder of Mitsubishi, Yataro Iwasaki.
The house where Yataro was born still exists in Aki city, Kochi prefecture. This house is simple and has a straw-thatched roof. His family was once samurai status, but has since lost this social status. (This is true.)
Iwasaki ke no seikatsu wa kurushikatta you da. (It seems that the Iwasaki family had at tough life.) The author made a judgment about their situation mentioned above.
Yataro wa chuya no betsu naku, hageshiku nakiwameku kan no tsuyoi akanbo de, haha no Miwa mo komarihateta rashii. (It is said that Yataro was such an irritable baby and cried so intensely all day and all night that his mother Miwa was completely at a loss. But, I am not sure if it is true.) This could be true, but it probably spread by word of mouth.The Iwasaki house has a small garden and garden stones were placed in strange positions. (This is true.)
Kore wa nihon retto o katadotta mono da sou da. (I heard that they were made in the shape of Japan.)
Even though the fact that he made the shape of Japan is not 100% certain, it may be okay to think it is true to some extent because the garden stones are still there.
We all know that Yataro studied very hard in his poor childhood and accomplished a great achievement later. Therefore, we want to believe that he had dreamed of being successful in this country not only in his hometown since he was young. So, the last sentence is still repeated nowadays even though we don’t know if it is true or not.
Inagara ni shite nihon zendo o hukan shiyou to, Yataro ga mizukara tsukutta to iu. (It is said that he tried to overlook the whole country from his own room and made them on his own.)I think “to iu” is considered to be between “sou” and “rashii”. It can be either certain or uncertain.
*sou 1: any short form + sou, sou 2: masu form + sou