Chinese Grammar: Basic comparison with 比
How am I doing? Is he better than me? Classic questions when you start doing anything! So how do you compare yourself to others in Chinese?
There's a simple structure to use to make basic comparisons in Chinese: 比!
To say that one thing is more [something] than another, the structure is:
Noun 1 + 比 + Noun 2 + Adjective.
Basically, you’re saying “ You “than” me taller”, instead of “you are taller than me”.
Three things to keep in mind
The noun that's placed first is the one that comes out on top in the comparison. So in the sentence 飞机 比 船 快, if you were to put boats first, you’d be saying: 船 比 飞机 快, boats are faster than planes, which would be false.
比 can only be used to compare dissimilar things. It can definitely not be used to talk about things that are similar. There’s a structure for that, which you’ll learn later.
Lastly, you should only use positive adjectives in the comparison, not negative.
He can be taller than you but you can't be less tall than him in this structure. That is to say, you can’t say 船 比 飞机 不快 either: that is also incorrect!
Not as big as me
Don't worry though, there are ways to negatively compare yourself to others or others to you (if you like to do that. Don’t though, it just brings you down.). If you use it the other way around, it’s a great way to flatter yourself.
The most common way to say someone or a thing is less something than someone else is by using 没有, which you’ve encountered before as meaning “not”. Well, here, it also takes on a comparison dimension, and means "not as…as".
It works like 比 but in reverse: the first noun is less something than the other noun.
Noun 1 + 没有 + Noun 2 + Adjective
The other way is a little more subtle, and means "no(t) more… than".
You should have no problem remembering what it is: it's 不比, which is pronounced bùbǐ - yes, it sounds an awful lot like boobie but no snickering. Now, maybe this part's title makes more sense.
Subject + 不比 + Noun + Adjective/Verb
Compare: Which sounds more conceited?
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