And kanji with manga
Friday, June 7, 2019

sou

In Japanese, sou そう means "like that," "that's right," "it seems," or "I heard from someone that" depending on what function of the word is being used in a given sentence.

Pronoun

Before a verb, sou そう is part of the kou, sou, aa, dou こう, そう, ああ, どう set of adverbial kosoado words.

  • sou omou
    そう思う
    To think that way.
  • sou shita
    そうした
    To have done that way.
    To have done so.

Suffix

After a word, it's the sou そう suffix, meaning "seems" or "so I heard" depending on how it's attached to other words.

  • oishi-sou da
    美味しそう
    Seems delicious.
  • oishii-sou da
    美味しいそう
    I heard it's delicious.
  • oishi-sou na keeki
    美味しそうなケーキ
    A cake that seems delicious.
  • oishi-sou ni taberu
    美味しそうに食べる
    To eat it in a way it seems delicious.
  • shini-sou da
    死にそう
    It seems [he] will die.
  • shinda-sou da
    死んだそう
    I heard [he] died.
  • genki-sou da
    元気そう
    Seems lively.
  • genki da-sou da
    元気だそう
    I heard [he] is lively.

Some light novel, manga, and anime titles have a ~sou ~荘 suffix that's added to the name of a building that houses people, a dormitory, a villa, a complex, because the series takes place in the location. This is a completely different word, but, for reference, some possible translations:

  • boku-ra wa minna Kawai-sou
    僕らはみんな河合
    We're All Kawai Complex. (literally.)
    We're All Miserable.
  • Sakura-sou no {petto na} kanojo
    さくらのペットな彼女
    The {Pet} Girlfriend of the Sakura Hall.
  • Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san
    ゆらぎの幽奈さん
    Yuuna-san of the Yuragi Inn.
  • Sunohara-sou no Kanrinin-san
    すのはらの管理さん
    The Caretaker of the Sunohara Dormitory.
    • kanri suru
      管理する
      To manage [a place, a task]. To take care of.

Interjection

Alone in a phrase, it's the sou そう interjection, which means simply "so." And by alone I mean just it, the optional copula, sentence-ending particles, nominalizers or whatever other expressions, of course.

  • sou そう
    sou da そう
    sou desu そうです
    sou desu yo そうですよ
    sou desu wa そうですわ
    sou yo そう
    sou da ze そうだぜ
    sou da zo そうだぞ
    sou da mon そうだもん
    sou da mono そうだもの
    sou de aru そうである
    sou de arimasu そうであります
    sou de arinsu そうでありんす
    sou degozaru そうでござる
    sou degozaimasu そうでございます
    It's so!
    That's right!
  • sou na そう
    sou ne そう
    sou da na そうだな
    sou da ne そう
    sou da mon na そうだもんな
    sou da mon ne そうだもんね
    Yeah.
    You're right.
    Isn't it so?
  • sou ka そう
    sokka っか
    It's so, huh?
    I see.
  • sou ka? そうか?
    sou desu ka? そうですか
    Is that so?
  • sou darou そうだろう
    sou desho そうでしょ
    That's right, isn't it?
  • sou de arou? そうであろう?
    sou deshou ka? そうでしょうか?
    Is that right?
  • sou ka na? そうかな?
    sou ka ne? そうかね?
    Is that right, I wonder?
  • sou nanda yo そうなんだよ
    sou na no da そうなのだ!
    sou na no desu そうなのです
    sou na no desu wa そうなのですわ
    sou nandesu そうなんです
    sou nandesu yo そうなんですよ
    Yeah, that's right!
  • sou da tte そうだって
    sou da tte ba そうだってば
    sou da tte ba yo そうだってばよ
    I'm saying it's so!
  • sou ni kimatteru! そうに決まってる!
    Of course it's so!

In essence this is the same meaning as the pronoun, except it isn't modifying a verb.

Sometimes, the "I see" sou ka can mean "I got it" when a person is having an idea, typically accompanied by a fist hitting palm gesture.

In this case it's like the person is talking to themselves: they think of something and say sou そう, "it's that way," but the "way" they're referring to is what they imagined inside their heads. Interlocutors have no idea what the person is referring to until they say what they just just realized.

Character: Fujioka Haruhi 藤岡ハルヒ
Anime: Ouran High School Host Club, Ouran Koukou Hosuto-Bu 桜蘭高校ホスト部 (Episode 1)
  • Context: Haruhi is trying to remember a word that perfectly describes a certain person. After thinking for a while, she gestures and says:
  • a!! sou ka!
    あ!!そうか!
    Ah!! [I got it]!
    • uzai
      うざい
      Obnoxious. (the word she remembered.)

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