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Lesson 10
Adjectives with sou and sugiru


This lesson should clarify sou (I hear that [something] is [adjective]) and sou ([something] looks/sounds/seems [adjective]).

Here's how they work: Sou (I hear that [something] is [adjective]) is basically used to report hearsay or the reports of others without the involvement of your personal senses or opinion. It is added after both true and quasi-adjectives with no change to the adjective itself:

  • Ano daigaku no nyuugaku shiken wa muzukashii sou desu. (I hear that that university's entrance exam is difficult.)
  • Sono hon wa takai sou desu. (I hear that book's expensive.)
  • Ano atarashii mise no basho wa fuben sou desu. (I hear that the new store is in an inconvenient location.)

The other sou ([something] looks/sounds/seems [adjective]) is used to express your own impression of something based on hearsay, seeing a picture, etc. This one takes the place of the final i in true adjectives, and is added after quasis, just like the other sou:

  • Oishisou! (Sounds delicious!)
  • Sono jitensha wa takasou. (That bicycle looks expensive.)
  • Kare wa ganko sou na ojii-san desu ne. (He seems like a hard-headed old man, doesn't he?)

Thanks to various unwritten rules, these two sous are fairly easy to keep straight. In the first sou outlined above, sou is said without stress, in a matter-of-fact kind of way. Also, I've noticed that native speakers will usually add desu or da after it. (That's why I added desu in the examples.) The second sou is stressed and drawn out, and said with at least a little excitement if it's describing something good. It doesn't need desu or da, and is often used as a simple exclamation:

  • Tanoshisou! (Sounds fun!)
  • Samusou! (Looks cold! [as one might say while watching a program about Alaska])
  • Mazusou! (Sounds nasty! [not good to eat])
  • Kantan sou! (Looks easy!)
  • Raku sou! (Looks comfortable!)

Note: The adjective yoi is an exception with this sou. You need to add sa first: yosasou (sounds good). This, by the way, is how you add sou to the negative nai as well. For example: yoi (good) + nai = yokunai (not good) + sou = yokunasasou (doesn't sound good).

Sugiru is a verb that means "to be excessive." Combined with adjectives it means "too (much of something)," and is also used a lot. It works like the second sou above, meaning it replaces the final i of true adjectives:

  • Kono o-cha wa atsusugiru! (This tea is too hot!)
  • Ano hako wa omosugiru! (That box is too heavy!)
  • Kyou no shiken wa muzukashisugita. (Today's test was too difficult.)
  • Kore wa kantan sugiru! (This is too easy!)
  • Kanojo wa kechi sugiru kara, tomodachi ga inai. (She doesn't have any friends because she's too stingy.)

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