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I just learned that you could use 看样子 to mean something similar to 看起来. Is there a difference in usage? Is one more formal than the other?

From Iciba.com 好天气看样子要过去了

他看起来很生气

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    Good question. Even native speakers feel tricky. This paper gives some examples where they (看来, 看起来, 看样子, 看上去) are not interchangeable. – Stan Mar 28 '16 at 13:59
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    cf。"实用汉语近义虚词词典"看来(连)/看起来(连)/看样子(连)^^[相同]^^都是连词,表示根据某一情况作出判断或推测,都可以用在句子开头。有时可以互换:1天一下子阴了,看来要下大雨了。(看起来✓看样子✓)2赵娜老打哈欠,看来昨天晚上没睡好。(看起来✓看样子✓)3雨下个不停,看起来我们今天去不成海边了。(看来✓看样子✓)4看起来,这条马路到年底也修不好。(看来✓看样子✓)5杰克笑嘻嘻得走过来,看样子他今天心情不错。(看来✓看起来✓)6王经理一直没出声,看样子他对这个计划并不满意。(看来✓看起来✓)**[不同]**1"看来"往往是通过分析得出的推论,一般不用在主语后,只用在主语前:"看起来、看样子"还可以表示从人或物的外貌、外表直接看出来,可以用在主语前,也可以用在主语后:1他看起来像个40多岁的中年人,哪像个20多岁的小伙子?(看样子✓看来✗)2这些花看起来像是真的一样,其实是假的。(看样子✓看来✗)3他看样子很老实,其实狡猾得要命!(看起来✓看来✗)4这些菜看样子就很好吃,我今天要多吃几碗饭。(看起来✓看来✗)。2。"看来"还可以用于"从。。。看来、在。。。看来、由此看来、照我看来"等固定结构,表示从某个角度来考虑:"看起来、看样子"没有这样的用法: – user6065 Mar 28 '16 at 15:55
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    1从目前的状况看来,病人已经脱离了生命危险。(看起来✗看样子✗)2从这人的穿着打扮看来,她很可能是一名时装模特。(看起来✗看样子✗)3在阿红看来,阿文并没什么本事。(看起来✗看样子✗)4由此看来,我们必须从头开始了。(看起来✗看样子✗)5照我看来,你还是先回家看看。(看起来✗看样子✗)3。"看样子"中间还可以放入一些词语,"看起来、看来"不能:1看你的样子,今天一定遇到了大喜事。(看来✗看起来✗)2看奶奶高兴的样子,我们都放心了。(看来✗看起来✗) – user6065 Mar 28 '16 at 15:55
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    @user6065 better to put them in the answer. Though additional English translation would be great, it is still a good answer without that. – Stan Mar 28 '16 at 16:13
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    I agree with Stan, format these "dumps" into nice answers. They are just hard to read this way. – Drunken Master Mar 28 '16 at 16:30
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From the comment by @user6065

Similarities and differences of '看来', '看起来' and '看样子'

Similarities:

  • They are all conjunctions, used to make judgements or predictions based on a specific situation.
  • They could be used at the beginning of a sentence.
  • They are interchangeable sometimes
  • Examples:
    1. 天一下子阴了,看来(看起来/看样子)要下大雨了。
      • It is cloudy all of a sudden, looks like it is about to rain.
    2. 赵娜老打哈欠,看来(看起来/看样子)昨天晚上没睡好。
      • Zhao Na keeps yawning, looks like she didn't sleep well last night.
    3. 雨下个不停,看起来(看来/看样子)我们这几天去不成海边了。
      • It is still raining, looks like we can't go to the seaside in a few days.
    4. 看起来(看来/看样子),这条马路到年底也修不好。
      • Looks like this road won't get fixed by the end of year.
    5. 杰克笑嘻嘻得走过来,看样子(看来/看起来)他今天心情不错。
      • Jack is coming with smile on his face, looks like he is feeling good today.
    6. 王经理一直没出声,看样子(看来/看起来)他对这个计划并不满意。
      • Mr.Wang didn't say anything, it looks like he is not satisfied with this plan.

Differences:

  • "看来" is to represent the inference by analysis (little bit). While "看起来" and "看样子" represent the inference more obviously, such as the inference easily made according to appearance.
  • "看来" is only used before Subject most of the time. While "看起来" and "看样子" could be used before or after Subject.
  • "看来" could be used in these structures: "从...看来", "在...看来", "由此看来", "照我看来", which refer to get the inference via different perspectives. "看起来" and "看样子" cannot be used in these structures.

  • Examples:

    1. 他看起来(看样子)像个40多岁的中年人,哪像个20多岁的小伙子?
      • He looks like around 40 years old. How could he look like a 20-year-old guy?
    2. 这些花看起来(看样子)像是真的一样,其实是假的。
      • These flowers looks like authentic, but they are artificial.
    3. 他看样子(看起来)很老实,其实狡猾得要命。
      • He looks like honest, but he is cunning.
    4. 这些菜看样子(看起来)就很好吃,我今天要多吃几碗饭。
      • These dishes looks tasty. I would like to have more today.
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There exists the case whereby 看来 cannot be replaced with 看样子, as shown below:

a. 在笔者看来,教育有两个基本功能。 b. *在笔者看样子,教育有两个基本功能。 c. ?在笔者看起来,教育有两个基本功能。

This contrast indicates that '看来' relates to highlight one's idea, and '看样子' or '看起来' involves the inference according to the given information, for examples:

d. 你看这位畜主笑逐颜开,得意洋洋,看样子他的这头毛驴今天准能卖个好价钱。

If we replace 看样子 with 看起来 in d, as for me, the new sentence can also be acceptable though not perfectly natural. However, 看样子 and 看起来 are not exchangeable in e and f, as shown below:

e. 这个问题现在看起来好像并不复杂。 f. *这个问题现在看样子好像并不复杂。

现在'now' implies that '问题' has long been concerned, and after a long-term study, it is now being easy. This contrast suggests that 看样子 is proper to describe the immediate presupposed situation, whereas 看起来 is suitable for a summary purpose, whether immediate reality or immediate focus.

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“看样子” and“看起来”,are both similar to “it seems ...” or “it looks like ...”, or “probably ...”,we usually use it to express some predictions based on some fact!

sometimes,“看来” can be used to express prediction, too. for example, “看来,天要下雨了…”. but in “在某人看来”,“看来” is similar to “as can be seen by somebody” or “somebody's opinion is ...”. “看来”“看起来” is very different,its meaning changes in different cases.

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They both are just used orally. and in most cases you can just either one, native speaker could understand you

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