There is this moment in the life of a Japanese learner when similar grammars start popping out one after another. One of the expressions like that is ように, which has so many uses that one gets completely lost. Especially since no textbook covers all of them.

I have decided to list various uses of ように so that you can use it as a reference, and read this post whenever you are troubled. Some of this uses come from 様 (‘appearance’, ‘style’, ‘way of doing something’, ‘having likeness’), and one is simply volitional form of the る verbs.

By the way, if you like posts like this then you can follow me on Reddit to get info about new articles 🙂

So let’s start!

Order of grammar explained:

ように (so that)

ように(like, as if)

かのように(as if)

ますように/ように祈る(hope that, wish that)

毎(まい)〜のように(almost every)

思うように (as one hopes, as one thinks (is best))

ように言う・頼(たの)む・命(めい)じる (tell to)

ように言う (say so that)

ように見(み)せる (pretend to)

ようにする (do so that, make sure to, to try to)

ようになる (began to, came to, became, reach the point where, start to)

ようになっている(something happens by itself)

ようによっては (depending on the way one does something)

ようにも (even if one tries…)

ように (do something in such a way, so that, to) [It only follows verbs]

Used to express the purpose or goal, and the following phrase is an action needed to achieve it. It is similar to ために、には and のに, however, it follows non-volitional verbs – that is verbs that cannot be achieved by a person’s will – for example ‘to fall’, ‘to forget. In general, the verb before ように is either in negative form or in potential form (the potential form is considered non-volitional). It only follows verbs.



He was careful not to leave the doors unlocked.


Please bring warm clothes so that you won’t catch a cold.

ように (as (if), like) [can follow verbs, nouns and adjectives]

Used to express similarity (especially in appearance) or manner of doing something.


Like I said before when I was a kid I used to pretend David Hasselhoff was my dad.

It can follow verbs, nouns, and adjectives.


Your mother sounds like a smart woman.


That person looks like a gangster.


It sounds really illegal…

かのように (as if) [can follow verbs, nouns and adjectives]

Used to express that something appears to the speaker, contrary to reality, in other words, speaking figuratively. ように by itself also has this function, however, かのように has the stronger nuance that the compared things are different in reality.


Computers move so fluidly between their various responsibilities that they give the illusion of doing everything simultaneously. (contrary to reality, where they do things one by one, but incredibly fast)


He looked like a pro sportsman. (contrary to reality, where he is a salaryman for example)

You can add まるで to ように and かのように sentences to emphasize the counter-factual nuance even more.


Mr Noone looks (almost) like Marlond Brando.

ますように/ように祈る “may x happen” or “let x happen” [can follow only verbs]

Used when one wishes/hopes for something to happen. In this case, 祈る does not literally mean that ones ‘ prays’ for something. どうか can be added for emphasis.

Notice when 祈る is omitted, then the ます form of the verb should be used before ように。


I hope that Tanaka san can get married.


I hope I can pass the test tomorrow.


Let’s hope that Takeda san can go back home safely!

毎(まい)(counter)〜のように (almost every) [follows counters like 日、年 and so on]


I used to skip school almost every day.

日本(にほん)では 毎年(まいねん)のように少(すく)なくとも1回(かい)は地震(じしん)が起(お)こる。

There is at least 1 earthquake in Japan **almost every year**.

思うように (as one hopes, as one thinks (is best))


It came out as I have hoped.


Do what you think is best.

ように言(い)う/頼(たの)む/命(めい)じる (tell/ask/order to) [follows only verbs[

This is an extension of the ように (so that). It is used to express indirect quotes.

Direct versions:




Yamashita san told Takeshi ‘Help Mary’


Yamashita san told Takeshi to help Mary.

ように言う (to say so that)

When ようにいう is used with non-volitional verbs (potential verbs, verbs like 聞こえる、わかる) it means ‘to say in such a way’.


The teacher said it so that people understand.


What the heck is wrong with people who badmouth people who can hear them?

ように見(み)せる (pretend to) [can follow nouns, verbs and adjectives]

Used when something is not the case, but one wants to make it look so.


I want to pretend that it comes with ease. (but it is hard in reality)


He pretends that he doesn’t care, but in reality, he is really worried about his wife.

Before the next two points, I would like to do a short introduction of する and なる. Those two words express things changing, the する indicates intentional changes, and なる automatic/natural changes – things changing by themselves.

ようにする (do so that, make sure to, to try to) [can follow verbs only]

Lit. ‘make sure so that is used when one makes effort for some change to happen, often habitual or in other words, one will work hard (try hard) to achieve goal A.


Make sure to pay attention.


I’ve been trying to get a little exercise every day.


I try not to think about it.

ようになる (began to, came to, became, reach the point where, start to) [can follow verbs only]

The intransitive counterpart of ようにする. While in the ようにする case one puts effort into trying for something to happen, in the ようになる case something happens by itself. Usually expresses slow, gradual change and indicates that something that couldn’t be done before became possible.


Mary learned to play guitar.


For the first time in my life, I reached the point where I can read in Japanese.


I have finally started believing her story.

(ようになる is often used with phrases like ついに、やっと ‘finally’ for emphasis of the change)


The bridge has reached a point where people cannot pass.

ようになっている(2) [can follow verbs only]

As I mentioned before なる can express something automatic and happening by itself, this is often the case with ようになっている:


If the AutoBackup function is set to enabled, then the app will back up by itself.


If you eat this spicy chilli pepper then your eyes will become watery.


Verb[ます]ようによっては [follows stem of verbs like 考(かんが)える、見(み)る、聞(き)く、読(よ)む、やる and 使(つか)う]

meaning ‘depending on the way you VERB’ and is used to express when something changes depending on the verb. Usually follows masu stem (ます form of the verb without ます itself) of verbs like 考える、見る、聞く、読む、やる and 使う。


**Depending on how** you look at it, the color of this dress may seem like it’s “blue and black” or “white and gold”.


**Depending on the way** you read this tweet, you could take it as irony, right!?

Verb[Volitional]にも + Verb[ない] [it is にも following volitional form of the verb]

This pattern actually uses volitional form instead of よう, but still, in the case of るverbs (ichidan verbs) we get ようにも, so I decided to include it here.

It is used when one wants or tries to do the action described by the Verb, but circumstances make it impossible.


I cannot sleep even if I try.


Even if I try to arrest him, I have no proof.

(an example for u-verb)


I cannot forget him, even if I try to.

That’s all, knowing all of these you should never be surprised when wild ように appears

Next week I will write another post explaining all uses of よう itself.


I am mrnoone, and this was briefjapanese.

All my articles, including why は is pronounced as わ are archivized on my blog





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