631 - より~のほう

Some sentences for your perusal:

- Learning kanji takes longer than learning hiragana.
- The apples are more expensive than the pears.
- Writing lessons is easier than writing lesson intros.

Well, did you guess the grammar topic?

Of course you did...


JLPT N4: より~のほう (X is more [something] than Y)

Before reading this one, you should review the other N4 lesson we had on より:[NDL #504] - JLPT N4: は~より.

Understanding what's in that lesson will make this one a lot easier.

Let's look at a quick excerpt to refresh our memory...


We use より when we are making comparisons between two things.

For example:


花さんはより若いです。
はなさん は わたし より わかい です。
Hana-san is younger than me.
Literally: “Hana-san + は + I + より + young + です.”


"X より" means "more than X."

Specifically:

"X より [something]" means "more [something] than X."


In this lesson, we're using の方 (のほう) with より, but the end-result is pretty much the same: a comparative sentence.

An example:


白ワインより赤ワインの方体にいい。
しろワイン より あかワイン の ほう が からだ に いい。
Red wine is healthier than white wine. // Red wine is better for you than white wine.
Literally: “white wine + より + red wine + の + side / direction + が + healthy (=body + に + good).”


We can label our sentence parts as follows:

X = 白ワイン = white wine
Y = 赤ワイン = red wine
[something] = 体にいい = healthy

X より Y の方が [something].
= Y is more [something] than X.

白ワインより赤ワインの方が体にいい
= Red wine is healthier than white wine.


↑ Read that five or six times.

...still too difficult? Bummer.

Maybe this will help...


The Meaning of 方

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but one of the meanings of 方 (ほう) is "side."

It can also mean things like "direction" or "way," which sort of makes sense, I suppose.

As 方 can mean "side," it makes sense that we have these words:

片方(かたほう // one side
両方(りょうほう // both [sides]

(For more info about 片- and 両-, check out this lesson: [NDL #64] - Japanese I Always Get Wrong.)

If we'd like, we can imagine that there are two "sides"―one for each thing that is being compared:

Both sides (両方) are wine.

One side (片方) is "red wine," and one side (片方) is "white wine."

More than white wine (= white wine より), the red wine side (= red wine の方) is healthier.


白ワインより赤ワインの方体にいい。
しろワイン より あかワイン の ほう が からだ に いい。
Red wine is healthier than white wine. // Red wine is better for you than white wine.
Literally: “white wine + より + red wine + の + side / direction + が + healthy (=body + に + good).”


Rules, rules, rules.

The format of these sentences is:

NOUN #1よりNOUN #2の方...
= NOUN #2 is more [...] than NOUN #1


When I first learned this grammar, my teacher led me to believe that this sentence construction will always have after の方.

It is very common to have after の方, as we did in both our first example and in this one:


私はアニメより漫画の方好きです。
わたし は アニメ より まんが の ほう が すき です。
I like manga more than anime. // I like manga better than anime.
Literally: “I + は + anime + より + manga + の + side / direction + が + liked + です.”


But there are times when の方 will not be followed by . Here it's followed by


わたしはよりの方よく食べます。
わたし は にく より さかな の ほう を よく たべます。
I eat fish more often than (I eat) meat.
Literally: “I + は + meat + より + fish + の + side / direction + を + often + eat.”


By the way, learning this sentence pattern is very helpful for practicing this grammar:

私はXよりYの方好きです。
わたし は X より Y の ほう が すき です。
I like Y more than X. // I like Y better than X.
Literally: “I + は + X + より + Y + の + side / direction + が + liked + です.”

Just fill in X and Y with all kinds of things. Then send those sentences to your teacher, language exchange partner, or imaginary friend.


If you go back and read our other N4 lesson on より, you may find yourself wondering why we even need to include の方 in our comparative sentences.

I mean, it seems like より, by meaning "more than," is enough to form a comparative sentence all on its own.

So why do we include の方 when it is already possible to form comparative sentences using only より?

I don't know.

The best answer I can come up with is simply that all languages have a variety of sentence constructions for expressing identical concepts.


Accordingly, we can more or less express the exact same thing already expressed in the example sentences we've seen so far without using の方:


赤ワインは[が]白ワインより体にいい。
あかワイン は [が] しろワイン より からだ に いい。
Red wine is healthier than white wine. // Red wine is better for you than white wine.
Literally: “red wine + は [が] + white wine + より + healthy (=body + に + good).”


漫画は[が]アニメより好きです。
まんが は [が] アニメ より すき です。
I like manga more than anime. // I like manga better than anime.
Literally: “manga + は [が] + anime + より + liked + です.”


魚をよりよく食べます。
さかな を にく より よく たべます。
I eat fish more often than (I eat) meat.
Literally: “fish + を + meat + より + often + eat.”


...of course, the nuances are prone to change a bit, particularly depending on whether we use は or が in those first two sentences (a nightmare for another day).

As is the case with most N4 grammar, you'll need to have a firm understanding of より~の方 in order to achieve Japanese fluency. In particular, you'll find yourself using より a lot as your Japanese improves.

So read this lesson a few times if it's causing you problems. And if that isn't enough, just come back to it in a few months when your Japanese has gotten a bit better. Some concepts starting making sense after you've reached a better level of general comprehension.


Speaking of comprehension, try this long sentence on for size:


最近は海外旅行より、国内の温泉旅行やスキー旅行の方若いカップルに人気です。
さいきん は かいがい りょこう より、 こくない の おんせん りょこう や スキー りょこう の ほう が わかい カップル に にんき です。
These days, going on trips within Japan to onsen and ski resorts is more popular among young couples than going abroad.
Literally: “recently / nowadays + は + vacation abroad (=overseas + trip) + より + within the country / domestic + の + onsen (=hot springs) + trip + や + ski + trip + の + side / direction + が + young + couple + に + popular + です.”
Note: The Japanese doesn't actually say "resorts," but I didn't like the sound of "going on trips to onsen and ski trips." Maybe you can think of a more natural translation that is truer to the literal Japanese.


Exceptions, exceptions, exceptions.

I said that our formula was:

NOUN #1よりNOUN #2の方...
= NOUN #2 is more [...] than NOUN #1


...but that's actually a bit misleading. Although that is a common way to make these types of sentences, we could also say:

VERB #1よりVERB #2...
= VERB #2 is more [...] than VERB #1


Note that the の is removed before 方!

Here are a couple of examples using this format:


長い髪は、洗うより乾かす大変です。
ながい かみ は、 あらう より かわかす ほう が たいへん です。
Drying long hair is tougher than washing it.
Literally: “long + hair + は, + wash + より + dry (e.g. clothes, hair, etc.) + side / direction + が + tough / difficult + です.”


東京から大阪に行くときは、飛行機で行くより新幹線で行く楽です。
とうきょう から おおさか に いく とき は、 ひこうき で いく より しんかんせん で いく ほう が らく です。
Going to Osaka from Tokyo by Shinkansen is easier than flying.
Literally: “Tokyo + from + Osaka + に + go + when / time + は, + plane + で + go + より + Shinkansen / bullet train + で + go + side / direction + が + easy / comfortable + です.”


Awkward, awkward, awkward.

Last of all, note that we typically do not use negative sentences with the より~の方 formation.


So this sounds fine:


豆乳より牛乳のほうおいしい。
とうにゅう より ぎゅうにゅう の ほう が おいしい。
Regular milk tastes better than soy milk.
Literally: “soy milk + より + (cow) milk + の + side / direction + が + tasty.”


But this sounds odd:


✕ 豆乳より牛乳のほうがおいしくない。
✕ とうにゅう より ぎゅうにゅう の ほう が おいしくない。
✕ Regular milk is more not-good-tasting than soy milk.
✕ Literally: “soy milk + より + (cow) milk + の + side / direction + が + not tasty.”



Finished!





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