There is nothing scarier for the person learning Japanese than grammar patterns of words that have multiple usages. Especially the ones which are not covered completely by a textbook. One such expression is よう. The grammar pattern that many of us hate, and fear. Well, this will stop today, because I have listed most of the よう uses in this post. Just bookmark it as a reference if you encounter wild よう somewhere.

I have split the post into two parts, the first part are the uses of よう which originate from 様 (‘appearance’, ‘style’, ‘way of doing something, ‘having likeness’), and the other part, which describes various uses of the volitional form (since the volitional form of る-verbs/ichidan verbs is よう).

If you are interested in ように then read (this post)(https://www.reddit.com/LearnJapanese/comments/wzul9v/briefjapanese_what_are_the_various_uses_of_%E3%82%88%E3%81%86%E3%81%AB/).

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

Part 1 (様)


Used to express something’s being likely (probability), something giving the impression or sensation of being something/someone or having a particular quality.


Did he come back home?

Yeah, looks like it.

彼女かのじょ意図いとはかなり 明確めいかくなようだ。

Her intentions seem clear to me.


You seem like an honest person.

ようだ is a bit formal expression, so in casual language みたい (which has the same functions) is used more often. When compared to other conjecture expressions like そう、らしい、だろう, よう・みたい expresses the highest degree of certainty.


This is a noun modifying the form of ようだ. It is used to express that described noun gives the impression or sensation of being something/someone or having a particular quality.

親父おやじ仙人せんにんのような ひと無口むくち

My father is like a hermit, he never speaks (he is silent).


He likes cute girls like Nezuko.


This one seems tastier.

When one speaks of ような it is good to mention the differences between it and ように。

While ような is a noun modifying the form, ように is an adverbial form, in other words, it might describe the action of the verb, other adverbs, and adjectives.


Mrnoone is sweet like pie, on the outside. (I swear, I am!)


He runs like a wind.

To put it simply, we can say that ように describes the similarity of the manner of doing something (the action of the verb).

かのようだ (ADVANCED)

Used when something feels like something else, CONTRARY to reality.


It is like driving a car, but this car is 20m long.


Describes a way of doing something. Usually used in ようがない construction (there is no way to do something, something is impossible).


It cannot get any worse.

もうダメだ! たたかいようがない。

It’s all over! There is no way for us to fight.

Many of you probably know the 方 (かた), the suffix added to describe how something is made. よう is usually not used for that.


Please, teach me how to write a good essay. (よう cannot be used here)

Aようで(ようだが)、実は(実際)B (ADVANCED)

Used when something seems to be A, while in reality is B.


Cats seem like cute animals, but they are actually great hunters.


Made of the ようで (appears that) + は (in this case it means ‘if’, and when it is used like this it is usually followed by some negative comment, knowing that, the phrases like なくてはいけない become much easier to understand if we think of なくては as ‘if/unless’ – いけない (nothing good will come). It is used to indirectly give a negative comment about something.


If you don’t even understand the basics, you should quit your job.


For example. if you don’t know anything about rice cultivation then you won’t make a good farmer.

Part 2 (volitional form)

The volitional form is used to express a person’s will or conjecture.

For るverbs replace the る ending with よう. 食べる→食べよう

For うverbs replace the last u sound with o and add うう. 読む→読もう

To create a polite volitional form, replace ます with ましょう (many will be shocked to learn that ましょう is a polite volitional form).

Volitional form by itself

It is used to express the speaker’s intention/will.


Let’s go to the party.


It is soo boring. I will listen to some music.

Used to express an offer.


I will boil the potatoes for you.


Let me help you with that (probably carrying something heavy.)


Volitional with the particle か that expresses doubt/question, used to express uncertainty or ask a question about the intention of others.

Used when the speaker is not sure what to do, or whether she should do the action or not.


What should we do?


What should we have for lunch?

Used when offering to do something for someone else.


Shall I tape tonight’s game for you?


Shall I help you look for keys?


The hero is dead. Should I tell you how he died?

Used when inviting someone to do an activity together.


Shall we go to the movies?


Shall we do something to eat?


Shall we go eat some sushi?

By the way, ませんか(ないか)has a similar role, however, it is much more polite, since using the negative form gives more leeway to the interlocutor to refuse.


Used to express speaker’s plants/intentions or ask for other personal intentions when followed by か. Unlike つもり、it cannot be used to state other people’s intentions.


I plan to move out.


Do you plan to go sleep?


I think of going abroad. (when か is used before と it adds the nuance of hesitancy and doubt, でも implies other options)

By the way, と思う is used when the decision is made at the moment of the speaking, and と思っている when the resolution has been already decided some time ago.


Used to express that something that was not expected happened spontaneously. Usually follows non-volitional verbs.


He has never expected to live so long.


I never expected that I would pass the JLPT.


Used to express that something is about to happen, immediately before something. Usually used with non-volitional (not contolable) verbs.


The fidget spinner boom is about to end.


The battle is about to begin!


Used to express that someone tries/attempts to do something. Can be replaced with てみる。


I have caught Gintoki san who was trying to sneak out.


I am trying to reach my goals.

However, when ようとする and てみる are used in the past tense, てみた suggests that the attempt was a success and ようとした has a nuance of a failure (and is often used as ようとしたが・ようとしたけど・ようとしたら)


I have convinced her.


I tried to convince her(, but failed.)


ようとしない is used when someone, is not willing to do something or not making an attempt to do something. The expression has negative nuance and is used when talking about other people.


Even if he does something bad, he will not make an effort to admit it.


No matter how many times he fails, he refuses to give up hope.

non-volitional form・Potential form + よう (ADVANCED)

Used to express conjecture (speaker’s belief that something is the case or will happen). This is old-fashioned, but I wanted to introduce this use so you know why だろう and でしょう (which are the ‘よう’ forms of だ and です) express the conjecture.

In this use, the volitional form was attached to non-controllable verbs, for example, the potential form.

それが 鬱病うつびょう発生はっせいさせたとも えよう

It probably can be (could be) said that this caused the depression.

あそこからよく こえよう。

You can probably hear it well from there.


The negative counterpart of the volitional form is まい which expresses negative volition (“intend not to” or negative probability)。I mention it only because it will be useful later.

そんなうわさは だれしんじまい。

No one will probably believe such a rumor.

もうそのところに くまい!

I will never again go to that place!

Aようと・ようがB (ADVANCED)

is used in formal writing equivalent of “ても・でも” and is used to express the idea that the situation described in B will take place/is always the case, regardless of whatever decision is taken/situation arises in A.

ひとなんおうが、ずっとあなたを あいしています!

No matter what people say, I will always love you.

なん ねんがかかろうと、ドラゴンボールを つけるようにする!

Even if it takes many years, I will do my best to find the dragon balls!

Aようが・AまいがB (Aようと・AまいとB) (ADVANCED)

Just like the ても・なくても pattern (where まいが is negative volition form) meaning “whether or not”. Just like above, B is the case regardless of A.

ろうが るまいが まった関係かんけいありません

Whether we sell it or not, it does not make any difference.

かれようが まいが 結果けっかおなじだろう。

Whether he comes or not, the result will be the same.

That’s all, you should know all about よう around now.


I am mrnoone, and this was briefjapanese.

(All my articles, including why は is pronounced as わ are archivized on my blog)(https://briefjapanese.fun/)





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