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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.
First up, write this character down, as you’re going to need it a lot:
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.
To show you how this character is used and how simple the formula is, here are a few positive examples:
Easy, right? See if you can put together a few sentences using 比 on your own.
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:
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”?
See if you can try and change some of the other examples from above or make your own to practice.
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:
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:
So, how would you say in Chinese that the burger is 17 kuai more than a jian bing?
Here’s one more specific example for you to practice:
How would you say that it is three degrees hotter today than yesterday?
Keep practicing and make your own examples and you’ll start to get it in no time.
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:
Of course, you’ll answer…
To review everything learned in this post, you can watch this short video from our YouTube channel: