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How to Make Comparisons in Chinese Posted by on Apr 16, 2018 in grammar, Vocabulary

An important step in making it out of the beginner phase and into an intermediate level of Chinese is being able to make comparisons. Thankfully, it’s not that hard to get the hang of. This post will show you how to make comparisons in Chinese. First, let’s learn the most important character you’ll need.

The Most Important Character for Comparisons

First up, write this character down, as you’re going to need it a lot:

比 – bǐ

This character basically means “compare/contrast.” The basic formula for using it to make comparisons goes something like: Subject 1 + 比 + Subject 2 + Adjective. It’s similar to making comparisons in English, only you don’t have to learn to differentiate between two methods (i.e. adj.-er than vs. more adj. than). My Chinese students always have such a hard time with that in English, and rightfully so. In Chinese, you just use 比 to show a comparison.

Positive Examples

How to Make Comparisons in Chinese

The awesome Shanghai skyline.

To show you how this character is used and how simple the formula is, here are a few positive examples:

他比我高
tā bǐ wǒ gāo
He’s taller than me.

上海比北京大
shàng hǎi bǐ běi jīng dà
Shanghai is bigger than Beijing.

西餐比中餐贵
xī cān bǐ zhōng cān guì
Western food is more expensive than Chinese food.

今天比昨天热
jīn tiān bǐ zuó tiān rè
Today is hotter than yesterday.

Easy, right? See if you can put together a few sentences using 比 on your own.

Negative Examples

I’m not as tall as him…

To make a negative comparison, you simply add the character for “no/not” (不 – bù) or the word for “no/don’t have” (没有 – méi yǒu). Just look at two different ways you can flip one of the above examples and make it negative:

我不比他高
wǒ bù bǐ tā gāo
I’m not as tall as him.

我没有他高
wǒ méi yǒu tā gāo
I’m not as tall as him.

As you can see, when you use 没有, there’s no need to use 比. Actually, it’s more common to use 没有 when making a negative comparison. Based on that, how do you think you would say “Beijing isn’t as big as Shanghai”?

北京没有上海大
běi jīng méi yǒu shàng hǎi dà
Beijing isn’t as big as Shanghai.

See if you can try and change some of the other examples from above or make your own to practice.

More Specific Comparisons

Chinese jianbing

One of my personal favorites – 煎饼.

So far, we’ve learned how to make pretty general comparisons, but what if you want to be more specific? For example, how can you compare how many years older than someone you are? Take a look at this example:

我二十六岁
wǒ èr shí liù suì
I’m 26 years old.

我弟弟十一岁
wǒ dì di shí yī suì
My little brother is 11 years old.

我比弟弟大十五岁
wǒ bǐ dì di dà shí wǔ suì
I’m 15 years older than my little brother.

As you can see, I just add the number of years at the end of the sentence to show how much older I am. Let’s try another one:

汉堡二十块
hàn bǎo èr shí kuài
A hamburger is 20 kuai.

煎饼三块
jiān bǐng sān kuài
A Chinese pancake is 3 kuai.

So, how would you say in Chinese that the burger is 17 kuai more than a jian bing?

汉堡比煎饼贵十七块
hàn bǎo bǐ jiān bǐng guì shí qī kuài
A hamburger is 17 kuai more expensive than a Chinese pancake.

Here’s one more specific example for you to practice:

今天二十五度
jīn tiān èr shí wǔ dù
Today it’s 25 degrees.

昨天二十二度
zuó tiān èr shí èr dù
Yesterday it was 22 degrees.

How would you say that it is three degrees hotter today than yesterday?

今天比昨天热三度
jīn tiān bǐ zuó tiān rè sān dù
Today it’s three degrees hotter than yesterday.

Keep practicing and make your own examples and you’ll start to get it in no time.

Asking Questions

It’s always easing asking questions in Chinese! Just like for any yes/no question, you just need to add the question particle (吗 – ma) to the end of the sentence:

中文比英文难吗?
zhōng wén bǐ yīng wén nán ma
Is Chinese more difficult than English?

Of course, you’ll answer…

中文没有英文难
zhōng wén méi yǒu yīng wén nán
Chinese is not as difficult as English.

To review everything learned in this post, you can watch this short video from our YouTube channel:

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About the Author:sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


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