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比 bǐ and 没有 méi yǒu: Making Comparisons in Mandarin Chinese

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In Chinese, there two kinds of comparative sentences:

  • A comparison of two or more things that do not appear at the same time in a sentence, but the speaker is aware that both arguments exist.
  • A comparison between 2 or more things that are both in the sentence.
  •  
    Let’s look at the first type of comparison!

    1. Rules for comparing two things that do not appear at the same time in a sentence.

    In this kind of sentence, there is an implication that one thing is being compared with another, although the ‘other’ is not explicitly mentioned. So, if I was to say “Your dress is beautiful”, it implies that there are other dresses which are not as beautiful. The following are rules to follow in order to make this kind of comparison in Chinese:

    a) Adjectives in a comparative sentence

    When an adjective is used in a comparative sentence, it can not used with an adverb, such as (hěn) or 非常 (fēi cháng).

    In the following example, the adjective is 好看 (hǎo kàn), which in this example means interesting:

    这部电影好看(zhè bù diàn yǐng hǎo kàn.) = This movie is interesting.

    b) Adjective + quantifier

    这部电影好看一些(zhè bù diàn yǐng hǎo kàn yī xiē.) = This movie is a little more interesting.

    c) Comparative adverbs + adjective

    这部电影更好看(zhè bù diàn yǐng gèng hǎo kàn.) = This movie is more interesting.

    这部电影最好看。(zhè bù diàn yǐng zuì hǎo kàn.) = This movie is the most interesting.

    2. Comparing two things that both appear at the same time in a sentence.

    Next let’s look at using 比 (bǐ) to compare two things. (bǐ) basically means ‘than’, but you can see this in more detail in the examples below. You notice that in comparative sentences using 比 (bǐ), we do not use adverbs such as 很 (hěn) or 非常 (fēi cháng) etc. Instead we use (gèng), (hái), (duō) and (yuǎn) etc.

    a) A比B+(更 gèng/还 yuǎn)+ adj/verb:

    她的帽子比我的好看(tā de mào zi bǐ wǒ de hǎo kàn.) = Her hat is more beautiful than mine.

    他比我更喜欢看书。(tā bǐ wǒ gèng xǐ huan kàn shū.) He likes reading much more than me.

    b) A比B+adj+quantitative complement:

    他的年纪比我大得多(tā de nián jì bǐ wǒ dà de duō.) = He is much older than me.

    c) A比B+多 (少)/早 (晚) + verb + quantifier:

    我比他多跑了五公里。(wǒ bǐ tā duō pǎo le wǔ gōng lǐ.) = I ran 5 miles more than him.

    我比他晚五分钟到电影院。(wǒ bǐ tā wǎn wǔ fēn zhōng dào diàn yǐng yuàn.) = I arrived at the cinema 5 mins later than him。

    他的游泳水平比他哥哥差远了。(tā de yóu yǒng shuǐ píng bǐ tā gē ge chà yuǎn le.) = He doesn’t swim as well as his brother.

    It’s also important to know how to compare using negations like 没有 (méi yǒu) and 不比 (bù bǐ). Although you may commonly only know 没有 (méi yǒu) to mean ‘not to have’, it also means ‘not to be’. The following section looks at these two examples:

    3. Negative comparative sentences using 没有 (méi yǒu) & 不比 (bù bǐ)

    The usages of these two are very different, let’s take a look at the examples below:

    a) Using 没有 (méi yǒu)

    我没有你大。 (wǒ méi yǒu nǐ dà.) = I am not older than you.

    If we translate this sentence, it comes out like this: I ‘not be’ (compared with) you am old.

    A没有B+(那么/这么)

    没有 (méi yǒu) is always used with a positive adjective such as 漂亮 (piào liang), (gāo) and (shuài).

    她没有你漂亮。(tā méi yǒu nǐ piào liang.) = She is not more beautiful than you.

    他家离公司没有你家离得那么远。(tā jiā lí gōng sī méi yǒu nǐ jiā lí de nà me yuǎn.) = His home is not as far from the company as yours.

    b) Using 不比 (bù bǐ)

    Next, let’s look at how to use 不比 (bù bǐ), which means ‘unlike’.

    我不比你大。(wǒ bù bǐ nǐ dà.) = I am not older than you.

    Negations such as 不 (bù) and 没有 (méi yǒu) can not be used directly before an adjective.

    这个书包比那个书包大。× (zhè ge shū bāo bǐ nèi gè shū bāo bú dà.)
    这个书包比那个书包没有大。× (zhè ge shū bāo bǐ nèi gè shū bāo méi yǒu dà.)

    这个书包没有那个书包大。√ (zhè ge shū bāoméi yǒu nèi gè shū bāo dà.) This school bag is not bigger than that one.

    4. Comparative sentences to express similarities and differences:

    One of the ways we can talk about things being the same or different is by using 一样 (yī yàng).

    a) A跟(和)B+(不)一样 +(adj)

    我和他一样大。(wǒ hé tā yī yàng dà.) = I am the same age as him.

    这张纸的颜色跟那张不一样。(zhè zhāng zhǐ de yán sè gēn nà zhāng bù yī yàng.) = The colour of this paper is different from that one.

    Note: We can use 差不多 (chà bu duō), 几乎 (jī hū), 不太 (bú tài), 完全 (wán quán) with(不)一样 (bù yī yàng).

    我和我妈妈的性格完全不一样。(wǒ hé wǒ mā ma de xìng gé wán quán bù yī yàng.) = My disposition is totally different from my mother’s.

    b) A+不如+B+ predicate phrase

    她的歌唱得不如她姐姐好。(tā de gē chàng de bù rú tā jiě jie hǎo.) = Her sister sings better than her.

    In this example, 不如 (bù rú) means ‘not as good as’. Also, when 不如 (bù rú) is included in the sentence a positive adjective is often used.

    他游泳不如我慢。× (tā yóu yǒng bù rú wǒ màn.)
    他游泳不如我√ (tā yóu yǒng bù rú wǒ kuài.) = He swims slower than me.

    c) A +有+B+这么/那么+adj

    我的伞有你的伞那么大(wǒ de sǎn yǒu nǐ de sǎn nà me dà.) = My umbrella is as big as yours.
     

    I hope our lesson on making comparisons in Chinese has helped you! If you have any questions, comments or additions to make to our post, please leave us a message below!

     
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    Facebook Comments

    • jack

      very useful article

      • Hollie Sowden

        Thanks Jack!

    • Matias Barth

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Hollie Sowden

        You’re welcome!

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      • Hollie Sowden

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    • carl guymer

      Once again a very good article! Thank you.

      • Hollie Sowden

        Thanks Carl!

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