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Chinese Grammar: All about 不如 - Making comparisons with 不如

Lupishu’s gotten used to the good life, and having now traveled quite a lot through Ninchana, he’s very clear on what he likes and doesn’t like. So he’s very interested in knowing a new comparison word that allows him specifically to make negative comparisons. And indeed, with 不如, precisely, you can say “things aren’t as good as” something else. Let’s learn about 不如!

Deny or refute comparisons with 不如

In its simplest form, you can translate 不如 into “not as good as” / “inferior to” / "not equal to" in English. You see now why it’s used for negative comparisons. As such, 不如 becomes a convenient fellow to use when you want to deny or refute a certain fact or situation.

It’s easy to use 不如. While quite similar to our good friend , 不如 has the added advantage of being flexible. It doesn’t require adjectives or verbs to make the comparison, unlike or other comparison words.

Basic Structure

[A + 不如 + B]

It can work as simple as that.


不如 .
I’m not as good as him.

面条 不如
Eating noodles is not as good as eating rice.

成绩 不如
My grades aren’t as good as hers.

数量 不如 质量
Quantity isn’t equal to quality. (It doesn't matter as much).

北京 不如 上海
Going to Beijing isn’t as good as going to Shanghai.

More advanced Structure

For a more precise comparison, you can include an adjective or a verb in your sentence along with 不如. You can then use 不如 to say A isn’t as “adjective” as B or that A isn’t as “verb” as B.

This slightly more advanced structure looks like this:

[A + 不如 + B + Adj./V.]


I’m not tall as him.

第二 不如 第一
The second one is not as good as the first.

He doesn’t eat as fast as me.

英文 不如
My English is not as good as him.

When adding a verb, the structure changes a little, as you can see in the examples above. It requires including , to be able to comment on the verb, using this structure: [A + verb + + 不如 + B + adjective].

Using 不如 as an adverb

不如 isn’t only used to make negative comparisons. When used as an adverb in a sentence, it means “might as well”. You can use it to give advice or suggestions when there are choices to choose from, kind of like “why don’t we...”?


[不如 + Verb/verb phrase]


这么 日语 不如 继续 下去
You've already studied Japanese for such a long time, might as well keep learning it.

既然 中国不如 在那儿 汉语
Since you’re going to China, you might as well learn Chinese there.

天气 这么 不如 我们 空调
The weather is so hot, we might as well turn on the air conditioner.

不如 休息 一下
Why don’t we rest a bit?

As you see, when 不如 is an adverb, the sentence usually ends with , to strengthen the feeling of advice or suggestion.

Another good thing to know is that you’ll also run often into 不如 with 与其 to reinforce its meaning.


[与其 + A + 不如 + B]

The full structure then means: “rather than A, might as well B...”.


与其 火车不如
Rather than going by train, might as well go by boat (= it’s better for you to go by boat than by train)

与其 出去 不如 游戏
Rather than going out to play, it’s better to stay home and play video games.

我们 产品 质量 第一 产品 与其 数量 质量 不如 数量 质量 。 We need to make the quality of products our number one priority. We'd rather have fewer products but with high quality than a large number of products but with low quality.

So there you have it! You know all about 不如, both to make negative comparisons with and to suggest things. Ready to go practice using 不如

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