Comparative 1

Compare two items

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Outline

KanjiVocabularyComparative 1

Kanji

North, Run away

South

Cat

Section, Portion

Darkness, Shade, Disappear

Vocabulary

どっち

Which one, Which way

どちら

Which one, Which way

スーパー

Supermarket

North

South

Cat

暗い

Dark, Depressed

部屋

Room

Comparative 1

When comparing two or more items in English, the forms of the adjective change. For example, the adjective "big" would become "bigger" or "biggest". In Japanese, adjectives do not change forms. Instead, the comparison between items is made by adding ほう and より. In this lesson, we will look at the words ほう and より and sentence structures for the comparison between two items. The next lesson will focus on sentences that compare more than three items.

Let's start by looking at the elements: より and ほう.

より

より is similar to the English word "than". It sets the base to which an item is compared against. Here's an example:
  • アメリカはおおきいです。
  • America is big.
  • アメリカは日本にほんよりおおきいです。
  • America is bigger than Japan.

ほう

The noun ほう means aspect. ほう can be written using the kanji (), but it is generally written using hiragana when it's used to compare items. When comparing two items, you can explicitly state the aspect you are comparing (size, height, etc) or you can use the general word for aspect (ほう). ほう is used when the aspect is obvious such as if it was previously mentioned or it can be inferred through the adjective.

In the previous example, America was the topic of the sentence because we used the particle は. It being bigger than Japan was just one fact about it. But the focus of the sentence itself was the topic of America, because of the .

If instead we wanted the focus of the sentence to be the comparison of the size between America and Japan, it would look like this:

  • アメリカのほうが日本にほんよりおおきいです。
  • America is bigger than Japan.

In the previous sentence, we are still using より, but we have replaced the with のほうが. Rather than stating the topic () of the sentence is America, we are instead stating that the subject () of the sentence is the aspect (ほう) of () America. Here are some more example sentences:

  • わたしいぬのほうがねこよりきです。
  • I like dogs more than cats.
  • きた部屋へやのほうがみなみ部屋へやよりくらいです。
  • The rooms in the north are darker than the rooms in the south.
  • スーパーのほうがコンビニよりやすいです。
  • Supermarkets are cheaper than convenience stores.

In all of the example sentences so far we have used the format XのほうがYより... but the format YよりXのほうが is also correct as seen below:

  • コンビニよりスーパーのほうがやすいです。
  • Supermarkets are cheaper than convenience stores.

Asking which one out of two items

To ask which one out of two options, the pronouns どちら or どっち can be used. Both words mean “which” in English with どちら being politer than どっち. Let’s take a look at some examples below:

  • いぬねこどちらがきですか?
  • Between dogs and cats, which one do you like?
  • 日本にほんではきたみなみどっちがさむいですか?
  • Between the north and the south, which is cold in Japan?

When asking questions in comparative terms, you can use のほうが instead of as seen below:

  • いぬねこどちらのほうがきですか?
  • Between dogs and cats, which one do you like more?
  • 日本にほんではきたみなみどっちのほうがさむいですか?
  • Between the north and the south, which is colder in Japan?

When answering those questions, you can imply the “rather than” part and create sentences like below:

  • いぬのほうがきです。
  • I like dogs more.
  • きたのほうがさむいです。
  • The north is colder.

You can also answer simply with です: いぬです or きたです.

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