618 - ほど (so... that)

JLPT N3: ほど (so... that)

The usage of ほど that we're looking at in this lesson is almost identical to the usage of くらい that we saw in the previous N3 lesson: [NDL #611] - JLPT N3: くらい (so... that).

That is, they mean something like "so X that Y." (Go back to that last lesson for more details on this.)

For example, we could say:

死にたいくらい恥ずかしかった。
しにたい くらい はずかしかった。
I was so embarrassed (that) I wanted to die.
Literally: “want to die + くらい + was embarrassed.”

And we could also say:

死にたいほど恥ずかしかった。
しにたい ほど はずかしかった。
I was so embarrassed (that) I wanted to die.
Literally: “want to die + ほど + was embarrassed.”


So what's the difference between くらい and ほど?

The main difference between くらい and ほど as we see them in these lessons is that ほど is only used when the degree of "X" is high. But くらい can be used when "X" is any level.

For example, this sentence sounds fine:


〇 辛い物が苦手な私でも食べられるくらいの辛さだ。
〇 からい もの が にがてな わたし でも たべられる くらい の からさ だ。
〇 Even I can eat this, and I don’t like spicy food.
Literally: “spicy + thing + が + dislike of + I + even (=でも) + can eat + くらい + の + spiciness + だ.”


A somewhat literal translation of that would be something like, "(This food) has a level of spiciness that even I, who don't like spicy food, can eat it."

Sounds a bit odd, yeah? It sounds even less natural if we try to force the "so X that Y" translation onto it:

"(This food) is so (not) spicy that I, who don't like spicy food, can eat it."

Saying "so X that Y" sounds strange because X (=spiciness) is not a high level. Accordingly, maybe it would be better to think of "Y くらい X" as meaning "X to the extent that Y."

Then "Y ほど X," which can only be used when the level of X is high, can be labeled as "so X that Y."

Accordingly, ほど cannot be used in this sentence:


✕ 辛い物が苦手な私でも食べられるほどの辛さだ。
✕ からい もの が にがてな わたし でも たべられる ほど の からさ だ。
✕ Even I can eat this, and I don’t like spicy food.
Literally: “spicy + thing + が + dislike of + I + even (=でも) + can eat + ほど + の + spiciness + だ.”


↑ All of that makes sense to me when I look at the Japanese sentences. But the explanation in English sounds a bit convoluted, yeah?

Sorry if it's confusing. Maybe this will help:


X is a high level.
so X that Y
→ → Y くらい X
→ → Y ほど X

X is not a high level.
X to the extent that Y
→ → Y くらい X


If this still isn't making any sense, just don't worry about it. Reading lots of examples should help more than my explanations, anyway...


🚧 Sentence-Building in Progress 🚧

The formation of phrases with ほど is the same as with くらい. So, repeating what we saw in the last N3 lesson:

Words in plain form can come directly before this ほど.

In a lot of cases, however, you'll find that the word directly before ほど is a verb in ~たい (=want to ~) form (which is technically an i-adjective) or a verb in the present tense.

So:

V たいほど
V-Presentほど


All that's left to do now is to power your way through this thicket of example sentences...


食べ物だよ。魚の骨 の画像

今朝、魚の骨がのどに刺さって、涙が出るほど痛かったです。
けさ、 さかな の ほね が のど に ささって、 なみだ が でる ほど いたかった です。
This morning, I got a fish bone stuck in my throat. It was so painful (that) it brought me to tears.
Literally: “this morning, + fish + の + bone + が + throat + に + stick into (with a sharp point) / pierce (and), + tears + が + come out + ほど + was painful + です.”


初めて雪を触った時は、言葉では表せないほど嬉しかった。
はじめて ゆき を さわった とき は、 ことば で は あらわせない ほど うれしかった。
The first time that I touched snow, I couldn’t even express in words how happy I was (=was so happy that [I] couldn't express [it] in words).
Literally: “for the first time + snow + を + touched + time + は, + words + で + は + cannot display / cannot signify + ほど + was happy.”


👶

先月、初孫が生まれた。可愛くて可愛くて、食べてしまいたいほどだ。
せんげつ、 はつまご が うまれた。 かわくて かわいくて、 たべてしまいたい ほど だ。
My first grandchild was born last month. She’s [He’s] so cute (that) I could just eat her [him] up.
Literally: “last month, + first grandchild + が + was born. + cute (and) + cute (and), + (completely) want to eat + ほど + だ.”


死にたいほどの恥ずかしい失態は誰にでもある。
しにたい ほど の はずかしい しったい は だれ に でも ある。
Everyone has made a mistake so embarrassing that they wanted to die.
Literally: “want to die + ほど + の + embarrassing + error + は + anyone (=who + に + でも) + there is (=ある).”


That's it for this one.

There are quite a few uses and meanings of both くらい and ほど, but I have found that it is helpful to think of them as meaning "extent" or "degree" (though these meanings often don't work for くらい).

Try going back through the word-by-word breakdowns from this lesson and the last one while imagining that くらい and ほど mean "extent" or "degree." It may make things clearer for you.

Discussion

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