anibee's Guide to Nifty Japanese Words 101! (Vol. 2)

―らしい(-rashii) and ―見たい/ぽい(-mitai/-poi)

To be like something/To resemble something

Many beginning Japanese language students would learn these phrases at a relatively early stage. They are both essentially the same in their meanings, but yet, significantly different too! So how do we tell them apart? Here's how:

らしい is basically used for when someone or something is acting in a way that befits him/her/it.

Example situation (A)

A: 今日は一所懸命でやります!

Kyou wa isshokenmei de yarimasu!

A: I’m going to go at it with all my effort today!

B: 君らしいね!

Kimi rashii ne!

B: That's totally like you!

When らしい is used here, we get the impression that A is normally hardworking and saying such a thing is very much typical of what A does regularly.

However, らしくない is used when someone or something is acting in a way that is not typical of he/she/it.

Example situation (B)

A: ねえ、知っている?あの子は十四歳だけだよ!

Nee, shitteiru? Ano ko wa jyuu yon sai dake da yo!

A: Hey, did you know? That girl's only 14 years old!

B: そう?本当に大人見たい/大人ぽいな…

Sou? Hontou ni otona mitai/otona poi na...

B: Really? She's really very mature…

In this situation, 見たい/ぽい is used to describe the girl in question for being something she isn't (e.g. being mature/like an adult).

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