As part of our Study Saturday language series on the Nihongo Master Podcast, we cover bite-sized language pointers in a fun and easy way. It’s formatted just like our online learning system: : we’ll go through the grammar point, then have a few role playing scenarios for you to get yourself accustomed to the new grammar language, and end it off with a recap of all the new vocab words we used.

In our Season 3 Episode 11, we learn how to make comparisons with “more than” and “less than”. Have you ever needed to make a comparison before? I do it on a daily basis — whether it’s to say that taking the train is faster than the bus or if coffee’s better than tea. 

Regardless of what type of comparison you’re making, we can all agree that it’s a pretty common daily occurrence and we must definitely learn how to say it in Japanese, right? And the best part of it all is that it’s not difficult in the least to do that!

This article is a recap of what was discussed in the episode, so check the full episode out on our podcast (where we have some scenarios for you to practice with). But don’t worry, you’ll be able to get the sufficient amount of information to use the grammar in this article, too!

Grammar Point 

If you’ve checked out our previous Study Saturday episodes, we covered how to give advice using “hou ga ii” in Season 3 Episode 9. Check out our recap article here, too. You’ll find that a part of this week’s grammar language is pretty similar. In summary, there are three ways to state comparison: “no hou ga…yori”, “yori” and “hodo”.

No hou ga…yori (の方が〜より)

The first way of comparison is by using “no hou ga…yori” (の方が〜より). It’s pretty similar to “hou ga ii” which is a way of saying “you should” in Japanese. “No hou ga” is like saying “more”, and “yori” is like saying “than”. The format is:

A の方が B より(adjective)

(Adjective) A more than B.

Let’s have an example sentence: “I like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate ice cream.“

The adjective in this sentence is “I like” which is suki (好き). Subject A, which is the one that is more than the other, is vanilla ice cream (バニラアイス). Subject B is then chocolate ice cream (チョコアイス). You get this structure:

バニラアイス (A) + の方が + チョコアイス (B) + より + 好きです(adjective) = 

バニラアイスの方がチョコアイスより好き(です)。

Banira aisu no houga choco aisu yori suki desu.

Here’s another example sentence: “I think horror movies are more interesting than action movies.”

Subject A in this sentence is ”horror movies” (hora- eiga, ホラー映画). Subject B is “action movies” (akushon eiga, アクション映画). The adjective is “interesting” (omoshiroi, 面白い). To say “I think”, it’s “to omou” (と思う). Check out Season 2 Episode 8 of the podcast, or the recap article here.

You get the sentence:

ホラー映画の方がアクション映画より面白いと思う。

Hora- eiga no houga akushon eiga yori omoshiroi to omou. 

Ha…yori (は〜より)

The second way of stating comparisons is similar to the first way. You can switch out no hou ga with the particle ha (は), and just use yori to make comparisons. The format is: 

A は B より(adjective)

(Adjective) A more than B.

So the above sentence can also be said as: 

ホラー映画 (A) + は + アクション映画 + より + 面白いと思う。

ホラー映画はアクション映画より面白いと思う。

hora eiga ha akushon eiga yori omoshiroi to omou.

One thing to note is that you can only use “ha~yori” when the thing that’s being compared is the topic of the sentence. For the previous example, “horror movies” is the subject of the sentence. If the topic of the sentence is just “movies”, then the sentence becomes:

映画はホラーの方がアクションより面白いと思う。

Eiga ha hora- no hou ga akushon yori omoshiroi to omou.

As for the first sentence on ice cream, the topic of the sentence is “vanilla ice cream”. If the topic of that sentence is just “ice cream”, the sentence than becomes: 

アイスはバニラの方がチョコより好きです

aisu ha banira no hou ga choco yori suki desu. 

See the difference?

~Hodo (〜ほど)

Last but not least, the third way of comparing. We use ~hodo (〜ほど) to talk about the opposite construction: X is not as something as Y. “Hodo” can translate to mean “to the extent of”. The format is: 

X は Y ほど (adjective in the negative form) 

X is not as (adjective) as Y.

Let’s translate this sentence: “I think running is not as fun as swimming.” 

X in this sentence is “running”, which is hashiru (走る). Y in this sentence is “swimming”, which is oyogu (泳ぐ). The adjective in this sentence is “fun”, and the negative form “not fun” is tanoshikunai (楽しくない). You will get this full sentenceL:

走るは泳ぐほど楽しくない。

Hashiru ha ogogu hodo tanoshikunai.

We can also have this sentence using the previous grammar point (using ha…yori), and it becomes: 

泳ぐ方が走るより楽しい。

Oyogu hou ga hashiru yori tanoshii. 

Swimming is more fun than running. 

If you’re comparing verbs, you don’t say “no hou ga”, but rather just “hou ga”.

It might be a bit overwhelming but let’s have a quick recap:

We use no hou ga…yori (の方が〜より) to make comparisons.

We can also use ha…yori (は〜より), only when the subject of comparison is also the topic.

We use ~hodo (〜ほど) when comparing in the opposite construction of “not as something as”. 

Vocab Recap

In the podcast episode, we used a few Japanese words. Here’s a list of them for your reference:

banira (バニラ) — vanilla

Choco (チョコ) — chocolate

Aisu (アイス) — ice cream

Sukina (好きな) — like

Hora- (ホラー) — horror 

Akushon (アクション) — action

Eiga (映画) — movie 

Omoshiroi (面白い) — interesting 

Hashiru (走る) — to run 

Oyogu (泳ぐ) — to swim 

Tanoshii (楽しい) — fun

Amai (甘い) — sweet

Shiokarai (塩辛い) — salty

Takai (高い) — expensive

Yasui (安い) — cheap

Chuumon suru (注文する) — to order 

Kau (買う) — to buy

Kaban (カバン) — bag

Kutsu (靴) — shoes 

Kaimono (買い物) — shopping 

Gogo (午後) — afternoon 

Iro (色) — colour

Tenki (天気) — weather

Aka (赤) — red

Aoi (青) — blue

Kuro (黒) — black

Shiro (白) — white

Start Comparing!

Adding comparisons to your everyday sentences quickly levels up your skills in the language. And it makes for great conversations with your friends. Why don’t you give this a try the next time you’re practicing your Japanese? For more ideas and examples of these grammar points, check out the full episode on the Nihongo Master Podcast!