Chinese Verbs – Seem | 似乎 Sihu, 好像 Haoxiang and 显得 Xiande in Mandarin
Seem in Chinese is 似乎 Sìhū, 好像 Hǎoxiàng, 显得 Xiǎndé. The meaning of these three Chinese verbs is so close that you can replace one another in most sentences without worrying much about the correct verb to use. They all refer to uncertainty where one cannot be sure of a situation or a fact.
However, to dissect the meaning of the three Chinese Verbs as Seem in Chinese with varying intensity of truth, they have a connotation of the below:-
似乎 Sìhū: Seem to, Seem like, As if
好像 Hǎoxiàng: Look like, As if
显得 Xiǎndé: Appear to be
① Seem in Chinese – 似乎 Sihu
When you use feeling or a sixth sense to express an opinion without concrete evidence, you use 似乎 Sìhū. The statement would then be a guess or an assumption.
Xué zhōng wén sì hū hěn nán.
This problem seems very difficult to solve.
Zhè ge wèn tí sì hū hěn nán jiě jué.
I have never been to China. After hearing you, China seems to be a country which one must go.
Wǒ méi qù guò zhōng guó. Tīng nǐ zhè me yī shuō, zhōng guó sì hū fēi qù bù kě.
Yesterday, he talked to me in a rather strange manner. Seemed to hint at me something.
Tā zuó tiān hé wǒ shuō huà de yǔ qì yǒu diǎn guài guài de, sìhū zài àn shì wǒ shén me.
This person seems to look somewhat not right. (Seemingly something to be suspicious about in many different aspects be it character-wise, health or others.)
Zhè ge rén kàn qǐ lái sì hū yǒu diǎn bù duì jìn.
② Seem in Chinese – 好像 Haoxiang
好像 Hǎoxiàng is a direct translation of Look Like in Chinese but it can also mean Seem in Mandarin. Therefore, It has two meanings in itself. The first definition is certain similarity of physical appearance. An example:-
You look like your twin brother.
Nǐ kàn qǐlái hǎoxiàng nǐ de luánshēng xiōngdì.
The second meaning would be “look like” which is equivalent to “seem like” and “as if” figuratively. This outline would be what we are discussing in the sentence examples now.
Comparing to 似乎 Sìhū, 好像 Hǎoxiàng shows more confirmatory signs in a situation which derives as “look like” and Seem in Chinese.
Seem very interesting!
Hǎo xiàng hěn hǎo wán!
Your face is pale. You look like you are sick. (You seem to be sick.)
Nǐ de liǎn sè cāng bái, hǎo xiàng shēng bìng le.
His attitude of talking sounded as if he were the boss.
Tā shuō huà de tài dù hǎo xiàng yǐ wéi zì jǐ shì lǎo bǎn.
Dark cloud all over the sky. It seems/looks like it is going to rain. Bring an umbrella out.
Wū yún mǎn tiān, hǎo xiàng yào xià yǔ le. Dài bǎ sǎn chū mén.
She does not seem to have a good mood. You go and ask her what happened.
Tā hǎo xiàng xīn qíng bù hǎo. Nǐ qù wèn tā fā shēng le shén me shì.
③ Seem in Chinese – 显得 Xiande
显得 Xiǎndé is Appear to be in Chinese. The English term suggests that it has a strong hint of what claims to be the truth yet, it may not be necessarily so. Appear to be is also Seem to be in Chinese.
Do not confuse this with Appear in Chinese which means “physical presence” and the opposite word is “Disappear“.
You seem/appear to be better than yesterday. (气色 is complexion. Usually, we use this Chinese verb to describe a person in association with health or level of tiredness.)
Nǐ jīn tiān de qì sè xiǎn dé bǐ zuó tiān hǎo.
Doing more exercise will make a person appears to be relatively younger.
Duō zuò yùn dòng huì shǐ yī gè rén xiǎn dé bǐ jiào nián qīng.
Every time I talk to him, he seems unwilling to reply.
Wǒ měi cì hé tā shuō huà shí, tā dōu xiǎn dé bù yuàn yì huí fù.
Among all the students, she seems/appears to be the smartest.
Quán bù xué shēng dāng zhōng, tā xiǎn dé zuì cōng míng.
Initially, I felt that learning Chinese seems to be difficult. After learning, it appears to be easy.
Qǐ chū, wǒ jué dé xué zhōng wén sì hū hěn nán. Xué liǎo zhī hòu, tā què xiǎn dé hěn róng yì.
The last example above shows that you can concurrently use two Chinese Verbs from Seem in Chinese to form one sentence. Check out more Chinese Verbs to Make You Verbal.