One of the first sentences that you will learn in a language school is 今日はいい天気ですね。(Kyou wa ii tenki desu ne) It is a nice weather today, isn’t it? The weather is a very good topic for business and everyday small talk with Japanese people. Also, the weather changes often, so we never know if it really is going to rain from those dark clouds up there. And that’s why this post explains also the grammar for expressing probability. Let’s have a look at some common ways how to do it.
This post focuses on a basic Japanese grammar in use of weather vocab. The sentences are really not hard to learn, you should be able to understand them even if you’re a beginner.
First, let’s start with some basic statements about the weather. They are very useful if you want to break the silence in an elevator.
夏です。 (natsu desu) It is summer.
少し暑いです。 (sukoshi atsui desu) It’s a little hot.
今日はすごく寒いです。 (kyō wa sugoku samui desu) It is very cold today.
もうすぐ冬ですね。(mousugu fuyu desu ne) It will be Winter very soon, right?
とても寒いです。 (totemo samui desu) It’s very cold.
風が吹きます。 (kaze ga fukimasu) Wind blows.
雪 / 雨が降ります。(yuki / ame ga furimasu) Snow / rain are falling – it snows / it rains
晴れます。(haremasu) It’s sunny / the sky is clear
曇ります。(kumorimasu) It’s cloudy
昨日はひどい雨(あめ)でした。(kinou wa hidoi ame deshita) It was a terrible rain yesterday.
As you see, the words totemo / sukoshi (very / a little) add a certain degree of emphasis to how cold/hot it is. In addition, you can use also other Japanese adverbs like amari (not much), or zenzen (not at all).
To express change of state of the weather, use the verb なる (to become) in combination with the particle に. In casual informal conversations, useなった (natta) and in more formal or neutral speech, use なります(narimasu).
暑くなりました。(atsuku narimashita) It has became hot.
夏になりました。(natsu ni narimashita) Summer has come.
夏になった。(natsu ni natta) Summer has come. – informal speech
You use also the te-form to say how the weather is changing right now.
寒くなって きました。(samuku natte kimashita) It’s starting to get cold.
暖かくなってきました。(atatakaku natte kimashita) It has been getting warmer.
雨が降っています。(ame ga futte imasu) It is raining.
Expressing probability with そう です (I heard)
This form is used to express hearsay, something you have heard (e.g. in TV) or read somewhere (e.g. in newspaper). そう です form is created in the following way:
明日は雨だそうです。 (ashita wa ame da sou desu) I heard that tomorrow is going to rain.
今日は暑くなりそうです。 (kyou wa atsuku narisou desu) It is probably going to be hot today.
明日は嵐になりそうです。 (ashita wa arashi ni narisou desu) A storm is probably coming tomorrow.
Expressing probability with ようです (it seems)
You desu expresses the subjective assumption of the speaker, based on information obtained through his/hers sensory organs. You desu isn’t used in informal communication, mitai form is used instead.
道が濡れています。(michi ga nurete imasu.) 雨が降ったようです。(Ame ga futta you desu) The road is wet. It seems it rained.
The difference between sō desu and you desu is that sō desu means we have heard something, either directly or indirectly, while you desu means that we sensed something with our senses.
雨が降りそうです (ame ga furisō desu) It will probably rain. (because I heard it in TV or read in newspaper).
雨が降るようです (ame ga furu you desu) It will probably rain. (because I see the dark clouds up there).
Expressing probability using みたい (looks like)
This expresses the same degree of probability as previous two phrases. However, mitai is used in informal conversations.
雨が降るみたい。 (ame ga furu mitai) It looks like it is going to rain.
Use でしょう to express uncertainty
Deshō expresses uncertainty in any argument or softens the speech. It is derived from desu. When used with increasing intonation, it indicates a question, but it is softer and less direct. A sentence with decreasing intonation is often translated as probably, must be or almost certain. The informal form of deshō is darō. Darō is considered casual and sometimes indecent (Dare darō? – Who is it?). The informal form of darō used by women is kashira.
今北海道は寒いでしょう。(Ima Hokkaidō wa samui deshō) It is probably cold in Hokkaido now.
今北海道は寒いかしら。(Ima Hokkaidō wa samui kashira) I wonder if it’s cold in Hokkaido now. – said by a woman
So, now you can speak in Japanese fluently about weather for hours and hours, right? You should check also this weather infographic for additional Japanese vocabulary. The words and phrases are divided into groups according to the season (haru – spring, natsu – summer, aki – autumn, fuyu – winter)
Japanese example conversation
田中: にほん か。 ええと、 いま、 さっぽろ は 雪が降りそうです。 とても さむく なりました。
ミラー: ざんねんですよね。 しかし、雪だるまを作ることができます。
Mr. Tanaka: Konnichiwa, Miller-san.
Ms. Miller: Konnichiwa. Kyou, Berurin wa ii tenki desu yo. Kinō wa kumotte imashita. Nihon tenki wa dou desu ka?
Mr. Tanaka: Nihon ka. Eeto, ima, Sapporo wa yuki ga furisou desu. Totemo samuku narimashita.
Ms. Miller: Zannen desu yo ne. Shikashi, yukidaruma o tsukuru koto ga dekimasu.
Mr. Tanaka: Hai, dekimasu.
Ms. Miller: Yuki no hi wa, nani o shimasu ka?
Mr. Tanaka: Hon o yomu no ga suki desu.
Mr. Tanaka: Hello, miss Miller.
Ms. Miller: Hello. There is a nice weather today in Berlin. It was cloudy yesterday. How is the weather in Japan?
Mr. Tanaka: In Japan? Well, now, It looks like it’s going to snow in Sapporo. It became very cold.
Ms. Miller: That’s a pity. However, you can make a snowman.
Mr. Tanaka: Yes, I can.
Ms. Miller: What do you do during snowy days?
Mr. Tanaka: I like reading books.
Well, if you read this post thoroughly, you should be able to talk about weather in Japanese like a pro. So, tell me now… あなたの国の天気はどうですか？ (Anata no kuni no tenki wa dō desu ka? – What is the weather like in your country?)