Wild Nihongo!
ほうが ~ より

ほうが ~ より

ほうが ~ より Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Phrase

Essential Meaning: A is more ADJECTIVE than B is / A does VERB more ADVERB than B does

Construction: 

  • Noun 1 のほうが Noun 2 より
    • E.g. 先生せんせいのほうが学生がくせいより [The teacher is more X than the student. / The teacher does X more Y than the student.]
  • (Verb / い-Adjective) 1 informal + ほうが + (Verb / い-Adjective) 2 informal non-past
    • E.g. はなすほうがくより [Speaking is more X than listening]
    • E.g. はなしたほうがくより [Having spoken is more X than having listened / Speaking would have been more X than listening]
    • E.g. べるほうがるより [Eating is more X than Sleeping]
    • E.g. べたほうがるより [Having eaten is more X than having slept / Eating would have been more X than sleeping]
    • E.g. たかいほうがやすいより [Expensive is more X than inexpensive]
    • E.g. たかかったほうがやすいより [Having been expensive is more X than having been inexpensive / Being expensive would have been more X than being cheap]
  • な-Adjective Stem 1 + [な / だった] + ほうが + な-Adjective Stem 2 + なより
    • E.g. しずかなほうがきれいなより [Quiet is more X than pretty]
    • E.g. しずかだったほうがきれいなより [Having been quiet is more X than having been pretty / Being quiet would have been more X than being pretty] 
  • Noun 1 + [である / だった] + ほうが + Noun 2 + であるより
    • E.g. 先生せんせいであるほうが学生がくせいであるより [Being a teacher is more X than being a student]
    • E.g. 先生せんせいだったほうが学生がくせいであるより [Having been a teacher is more X than having been a student / Being a teacher would have been more X than being a student]

Notes:

  • In Japanese, there are no comparative adjective or adverb forms as there are in English (e.g. “Bigger“, “More quickly“, “More beautiful“, “More beautifully“). Instead, the structure ほうが~より is used to compare adjectives and adverbs. This structure derives its meaning from the comparative particle より.
  • In the structure X ほうが Yより, Yより may be omitted if it is obvious from context what X is being compared to.
    • E.g. A: トムとジョンとどちらがつよいですか。B: トムのほうがつよいです。[A: Between Tom and John, who is stronger? B: Tom is stronger.] Based on the question, it is clear that Speaker B is comparing Tom to John, so it’s unnecessary for him to say “Compared to John…
  • In the structure X ほうが Yより, Y must be in the non-past tense. However, X can be either past or non-past depending on the context. When X is in the past-tense, there are two possible interpretations depending on whether or not the main predicate is also in the past-tense.
    • If X is in the past-tense and the main predicate is ALSO in the past-tense, then the sentence is interpreted as counterfactual (i.e. “It would have been better if…“).
      • E.g. わたしはなしたほうがきみがはなすよりよかった。[It would have been better if I had talked instead of you.]
    • If X is in the past-tense and the main predicate is in the non-past tense, then the sentence is interpreted as a hypothetical.
      • E.g. わたしはなしたほうがきみはなすよりいいでしょう。[It would be better if I talk instead of you, don’t you think?]
  • Grammatically, Yより can precede X ほう.
    • E.g. あのカメラよりこのカメラのほうがきです。[I like this camera more than I like that one.]
  • Noun X + のほう is a noun phrase, so it can be used anywhere that a noun can be used (i.e. as a subject, direct object, indirect object, etc.) When Xのほう is used in a position other than as the subject, the Yより X のほう structure is preferable.
    • E.g. わたしはビールよりさけのほうをよくむ。[I drink sake more than I drink beer.] In this case さけのほう is the direct object rather than the subject, so the Yより X のほうstructure is used.
    • E.g. 学生がくせい川田かわだ先生せんせいより木村きむら先生せんせいのほうによく質問しつもんく。[Students go to Kimura-sensei with questions more often than they go to Kawada-sensei with question.] In this case, 木村きむら先生せんせいのほう is the indirect object, so 川田かわだ先生せんせいより comes first in the sequence.
  • XはYより is another similar pattern that can be used to compare adjectives and adverbs. However, due to the nature of the topic marker , XはYより can only be used when X has previously been introduced as the topic. When X has been previously introduced as the topic, XはYより is preferable to XほうがYより.
    • E.g. *A: トムとジョンとどちらがつよいですか。B: トムはジョンよりつよいです。[A: Between Tom and John, who is stronger? B: Tom is stronger.] Person B uses the XはYより structure even though Tom has not been previously introduced as the topic. Thus, his sentence is ungrammatical.
    • E.g. A: トムはとてもつよいです。B: かれはジョンよりつよいです。[Tom is really strong. He’s stronger than John.] In this case, Tom is clearly established as the topic in the first sentence. Therefore, the XはYより structure is appropriate in the second sentence.

Example Sentences:

石田いしださんのほうがわたしよりわかい。[Mr. Ishida is younger than me.]

わたしのほうが上田うえださんよりよくべる。[I can eat more than Mr. Ueda can.]

くるまくほうがバスでくよりやすい。[Going by car is cheaper than going by bus.]

このカメラのほうがあのカメラよりきです。[I like this camera more than I like that camera.]

ジェフのほうがわたしよりはやはしれる。[Jeff can run faster than I can.]

わたしはなすほうがきみはなすよりいいでしょう。[It would be better if I spoke instead of you.]

もちろん, やすいほうがたかいよりうれしいです。[Of course, I’m happier when it’s cheap than when it’s expensive.]

子供こども元気げんきなほうがしずかかなより安心あんしんだ。[Speaking of kids, you feel more at ease when they’re lively than when they are quiet.]

わたしおんなであるほうがおとこであるよりたのしいとおもう。[I think being a girl is more fun than being a boy.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line from 0:30: 勉強べんきょうしないよりもしておいたほうがいい [Rather than not studying, you had better study.] In this case, より precedes ほうが.
Listen to this line at 1:57: 言葉ことばよりもこころのほうがこたえになるから [Because more than words, the answer is love]

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