906 - ば~ほど

JLPT N3: ば~ほど (the more...the more; the less...the less)

You may have seen ほど before. In fact, we've had a handful of N4 & N3 lessons surrounding it already:

[NDL #666] - JLPT N4: ほど~ない
[NDL #618] - JLPT N3: ほど (so... that)
[NDL #646] - JLPT N3: かと思うほど(かとおもうほど)
[NDL #900] - JLPT N3: ほど~はない

If you can't be bothered to read those right now, you can just think of ほど as meaning "degree" or "extent."

The ほど grammar point we're looking at in this lesson is used when describing how the degree of one thing affects the degree of another.  

For example:

枕はやわらかければやわらかいほどいいです。
まくら は やわらかければ やわらかい ほど いい です。
The softer the pillow, the better.
Literally: “pillow + は + if (it is) soft + soft + ほど + good + です.”


In this sentence, the degree of softness the pillow has affects the degree of goodness. Putting that gibberish into English that actually makes sense gives us the above translation.

Let's break down the point a little to see how it works. To start, take the verb or adjective you're using to describe the first "degree," and conjugate it into the form:

やわらかければ = if (it is) soft


Then add the dictionary form to double it up:

やわらかい = soft


Next, add ほど to make the first clause:

やわらかければやわらかいほど = the softer it is


Finally, finish your phrase by adding the second "degree": 

 いい = the better it is


Add them together, and you've got:

やわらかければやわらかいほどいい = the softer the better


Make sense? Don't worry if not. Let's take a look at some more examples!

 

駅からければ遠いほど、家賃は安くなります。
えき から とおければ とおい ほど、 やちん は やすく なります。
The further from the station you live, the cheaper the rent.
Literally: “station + から + if (it is) far away + far away + ほど, + rent + は + cheap + becomes.”


スルメは噛め噛むほど味が出ますよね。
スルメ は かめば かむ ほど あじ が でます よ ね。
The more you chew dried squid, the more flavorsome it becomes, huh?
Literally: “dried squid + は + if (you) chew + chew + ほど + flavor + が + go out of + よ + ね.”


果物も野菜も魚も、新鮮なら新鮮なほどおいしい。
くだもの も やさい も さかな も、 しんせんなら しんせんな ほど おいしい。
When it comes to fruit, vegetables, and fish, the fresher they are, the better they taste.
Literally: “fruit + も + vegetables + も + fish + も, + if (they are) fresh + fresh + ほど + tasty.”

 

So far, we've seen ば~ほど used to show things that are pretty logical, but it can also be used to show results (i.e. what happens to the second "degree" due to the first) that go against your expectations. For example:

彼の説明は聞け聞くほど分からなくなる。
かれ の せつめい は きけば きく ほど わからなく なる。
The more he tries to explain it, the more confused I get.
Literally: “he + の + explanation + は + if (I) hear + hear + ほど + don’t understand + become.”


Normally, the more someone explains something, the easier it is to understand, right? Not with this guy. Maybe he just can't get his thoughts in order, he's using increasingly difficult words, or he just plain sucks at explaining stuff. Either way, this is another fun way this ほど can be used.

 

As you've probably guessed, the construction works like this:

i-adjective ければ + i-adjective + ほど

+ V るほど

Don't forget that the  form of na-adjectives (confusingly) isn't a !

na-adjective なら + na-adjectiveほど

 

That's it for this lesson! If you didn't do so earlier, now might be a good time to go revise those ほど lessons I linked at the top of the lesson.

Saying that, sometimes the more new info you try to cram in, the less you actually absorb. With that in mind, why not re-read this lesson a couple of times then take a little break? 😉

In our next lesson, we'll be looking at another use of ほど that means basically the same thing. However, the next one cuts out the ば part and can be used with NOUNs. Woop woop!