らしい generally expresses conjecture based on what the speaker believes is reliable information they have heard, seen, or read.
Comparable words in English include “seems”, “looks like”, “apparently”, and “I heard”.
As an auxiliary adjective, らしい may attach to a noun, adjective, or verb.
A preceding verb is plain form; may be in present, past, or present progressive tense; and may be affirmative or negative.
そうだ differs in that it expresses a guess based on what the speaker sees, whereas らしい is based on what the speaker believes to be more reliable information.
- Chino, Naoko. “Basic Pattern 46.” A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Sentence Patterns, Kodansha, 2000, p. 251
- Kamiya, Taeko. “Expressing Conjecture and Hearsay, and Quoting People.” Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication, Kodansha, 2005, p. 227
- Makino, Seiichi and Michio Tsutsui. “Main Entries.” A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, The Japan Times Ltd., 1989, pp. 373–374
Rize tells Cocoa she heard animals other than Tippy don’t take a liking to Chino.
以外の 動物が 懐かないらしい」
Rize says she heard the hot water here has a good effect on high blood pressure and joint pain.
湯は 高血圧や 関節痛に 効果があるらしい」