JLPT 4 – superlatives and comparatives

October 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

By comparative degree I mean to say that we will study how we express the comparison between two things in Japanese language. Here we will see both the positive comparison and the negative comparison. In other words we will study that how we can express our comparison in a positive way as well as in a negative way. Besides this we will also learn sentence pattern which will help us to talk about our past experience, whether we have experienced a particular thing or not in Japanese language. You will observe that the Japanese grammar which we will learn in this lesson is mostly used in the “chyoukai” section of the JLPT exam. Let’s now begin with the grammar of this lesson.

1) When we compare things or people and want to ask questions related to their common qualities or characteristics at that time “– to…to dewa dochira ga — desu ka” sentence pattern is used. The two things which we are going compare should be specified in place of “– “and “…” signs separately. In other words, the name of the first thing or person should come before the first “to” and the name of the second thing or person should come after the second “to” or between the two “to” particles. The common quality or characteristic which you are going to compare should come in place of “–“sign i.e. it should come before desu ka. When you answer this question it should be answered in a particular way using a specific sentence pattern. You should answer using “– no hou ga — desu” sentence pattern only. In case you want to give the answer in a comparative way then use “- no hou ga … yori — desu”. We will learn this way of comparative answering in the next sentence pattern. We have provided you a few examples in the form of conversation related to this sentence pattern.

Example: 1

Japanese version:

Japanese language with superlative degree

English version:

A: Between strawberry and apple, which one do you like?

B: I like strawberry.

Example: 2

Japanese version:

superlative degree Japanese language

English version:

A: Which one is bigger, Tokyo or Osaka?

B: Tokyo is bigger.

2) “- no hou ga… yori — desu” sentence pattern is based on comparative degree. As specified in the first sentence pattern of this lesson we use this sentence pattern to answer the question related to the comparison between two things on the basis of a common feature in them. In this pattern the word “yori” means “than”. Even if “hou ga” means way, direction, method but in this pattern it means “out of these two…”. Let us see a few examples to know the correct way of using this sentence pattern in our conversation or while answering the question.

Example: 1

Japanese version:

Japanese language with comparative degree

English version:

A: Between Kyoto and Nara which one is older?

B: Nara is older than Kyoto.

B: Nara is older than Kyoto.

Example: 2

Japanese version:

comparative degree japanese language

English version:

A: Which one between Mt. Fuji and Mt. Everest is taller?

B: Mt. Everest is far taller than Mt. Fuji.

3) In the above two sentence pattern we learnt how to give the answer while we are comparing in a positive way like “A is taller than B” or only “A is taller”. Now we will learn how without changing the meaning of the same sentence we can answer it in a negative way like ” B is not as tall as A”. While giving a negative answer we use the sentence pattern “- wa … hodo — nai”. We can also say that while showing dissimilarity between two things we make use of this sentence pattern. The meaning of this sentence pattern in English will be “- is not so much — as …”. A small hint to remember about this form is that most of the time when “hodo” is used in a sentence at that time the sentence mostly carries a negative meaning to it. So most of the times when you see “hodo” the verb used is in its negative form. Following are a few examples which will help you understand this sentence patter more clearly:

Japanese sentences – (The bullet train cannot run as fast as an airplane.)

Japanese superlative sentences – (Mr. Ali is not as good as Mr. Chin at table-tennis.)

4) While talking about our past experiences whether we have faced it or not or while asking someone about some experience whether they have experienced it or not we use the sentence pattern “–ta koto ga aru/ nai”. Here “ta” stands for the “ta form” of the verb. The “ta form” is always used and comes before “koto”. Another way to answer when a question is asked using this form will be “ichido mo –nai”. “Ichi do mo – nai” is used when you have not experienced a particular thing even once. Have a look at the following examples in the form of


Example: 1

Japanese Version:

japanese comparative sentences

English version:

A: Mr. Sunil, have you ever seen Mt. Fuji?

B: Yes, I saw it one when I was in Japan, last year.

Example: 2

Japanese version:

Learning japanese sentence

English version:

A: Ms. Pooja, have you ever eaten Sushi?

B: Yes, I have eaten it several times.

A: Have you ever drunk Sake?

B: No, I have not drunk Sake even once.

5) There are some actions which we can do very easily and without putting much effort. While talking about such actions we usually say “it was easy to do…” or “it happened without any efforts” so to say this there is a word in Japanese language which we make use of is “yasui” which means “easy”. Therefore we are going to learn a new sentence pattern which is made by using the word “yasui”. Immediately before “yasui” always the “masu base form” or the “stem form” of verb is used. The opposite of this word is “nikui”. “Nikui” is used when we want to say that “it is difficult to do…” or “it is very hard to do…” in Japanese language. Similar to “yasui”, immidiately before “nikui” also the “masu base form” or the “stem form” of a verb is used.

Following are few examples which show the use of these two words while speaking and writing also.

masu base form of japanese language – (The characters in this Kanji dictionary are quite big and hence easy to read.)

stem form of japanese sentences – (How is this computer? Is it easy to operate?)

sentences in japanese – (For typing English it is easy to use, but it is difficult for typing Hindi language letters.)

6) In this sentence pattern we will learn two new phrases used for asking questions to your colleague’s opinion, thought or feeling about something. The first phrase is “dou omoimasu ka” which means “what do you feel about…?”. The second phrase is “dou desu ka” which means “How about you? / What about you?”. Read the following conversations to see the correct way of using these two phrases.

Example: 1

Japanese version:

japanese sentences with phrases

English version:

A: I think that Japanese language is easy.

B: The grammar part is easy, but the number of kanji characters is too large to memorize.

Example: 2

Japanese version:

japanese language with phrases

English version:

A: In my opinion, it is better not to go to Mumbai by a taxi. What do you think Mr. Sari?

B: Yes, I agree with you.


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