ほど

ほど Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Particle

Essential Meaning: To the extent of / To the extent that

Construction: 

  • Noun + ほど
    • E.g. きみほど [As you / To your extent]
  • Demonstrative Pronoun + ほど
    • E.g. それほど [To that extent]
  • Informal Sentence + ほど
    • E.g. いえたおれるほど [To the extent that the house falls down]

Notes:

  • ほど expresses an extent or degree to which something / someone does something or is in some state.
  • When ほど is preceded by a noun, the main predicate is generally negative. Such sentences mean “Not as X as Y” or “Someone / Something doesn’t do X to the extent that Y does“.
    • E.g. クリスほどよく勉強べんきょうする学生がくせいはいない。[There is no student who studies as well as Chris does.]
    • E.g. *わたし太郎たろうほどつよいい。[I am as strong as Taro is.] This sentence is ungrammatical because ほど is preceded by a noun and the main predicate is positive.
  • When ほど is preceded by a demonstrative pronoun or an informal sentence, the main predicate may be positive or negative.
    • E.g. この仕事しごとはこどもでもできるほどやさしい。[This job is easy to the extent that a child could do it.]
    • E.g. その仕事しごとはそれほどやさしんですか。 [Is that job that easy?]
    • E.g. ルイサさんの日本語にほんご太田おおた先生せんせい外国人がいこくじんだとづかなかったほど上手じょうずです。[Louisa is good at Japanese to the extent that even Ota sensei didn’t notice that she is a foreigner.]
  • When preceded by a quantifier, ほど can be interpreted to mean “About“.
    • E.g. ビールを3本さんぼんほどみました。[I drank about three bottles of beer.]
  • When quantifying objects with a number + counter (e.g. “Two apples“, “Five bottles“), ばかり and くらい be used instead of ほど. One difference to keep in mind is that ほど and ばかり are used to convey exact amounts, while くらい can only be used to express approximate amounts.
    • E.g. そのリンゴをふたつ(ばかり/ ほど)ください。[I’d like two of those apples, please.] Both ばかり and ほど allow the speaker to ask for exactly two apples in an indirect (and therefore polite) way. With ばかり, the connotation is “I’d like just two apples, please“, and with ほど the connotation is something like “I’d like as many as two apples, please.” Simply put, both sentences express the same idea.
    • E.g. *そのリンゴをふたつくらいください。[I’d like about two of those apples please.] This sentence is strange because the speaker clearly wants exactly two apples, but asks for “About two apples“. くらい would make more sense when purchasing an approximate amount of something (e.g. bulk candy) rather than a discrete number of something.
  • There are a couple special cases of ほど to take note of.
    • (1) い-Adjective + (Noun) + ほど / な-Adjective + (Noun) + なほど can mean something to the effect of: “To the extent that X is Y, Z” or “The more Y X is, Z.” In this situation, the predicate can be positive or negative.
      • E.g. わかひとほどあさ寝坊ねぼうをする。[The younger a person is, the more they tend to oversleep.] A more literal translation might be “To the extent that a person is young, they oversleep.
      • E.g. 伝統的でんとうてきなものは、ふるいほど価値かちがある [When it comes to traditional items, they are worth more to to the extent that they are old (i.e. the older they are, the more valuable they are).]
    • (2) The idiomatic expression XばXほど, Y means “The more X, the more Y.”
      • E.g. かれのことをればるほどきになる。[The more I get to know him, the better I like him.]
      • E.g. 荷物にもつすくなければすくないほどいい。[The less baggage, the better.]

Example Sentences:

わたしはケンほどつよくない。[I’m not as strong as Ken.]

この仕事しごと子供こどもでもできるほどやさしい。[This job is easy to the extent that a could could do it.]

ぼくきみほどはやあるけません。[I can’t walk as fast as you can.]

わたし西田にしださんがあれほどピアノがけるとはおもわなかった。[I didn’t think that Mr. Nishida could play the piano that well.]

WILD Examples:

At 0:46, listen for this line: 本当ほんとう気持きも全部ぜんぶせるほどつよくはない [I’m not strong to the extent that I’m able to spit out my true feelings]

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