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Basic comparisons with "bi"

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Also known as: 比字句 (bǐ zì jù).

One of the most common words when comparing things in Chinese is to use 比 (bǐ). 比 (bǐ) has similarities to the English word "than," but it requires a word order that's not so intuitive, so you'll want to practice it quite a bit.

Basic Usage

You could think of 比 (bǐ) as meaning "than," except that it sits between the two things being compared. The word order will take a little getting used to, but aside from that, the pattern is quite easy.

Structure

To say that one thing is more adjective than another, the structure is:

Noun 1 + 比 + Noun 2 + Adj.

The noun that's placed first is the one that comes out on top in the comparison. So in the sentence:

  • 小李 小张 Xiǎo Lǐ Xiǎo Zhāng gāo .Xiao Li is taller than Xiao Zhang.

小李 (Xiǎo Lǐ) is taller. The same situation could be described as

  • 小张 小李 Xiǎo Zhāng Xiǎo Lǐ ǎi .Xiao Zhang is shorter than Xiao Li.

Examples

  • 老师 聪明 lǎoshī cōngming.He is smarter than the teacher.
  • 上海 纽约 吗 ?Shànghǎi Niǔyuē ma? Is Shanghai bigger than New York?
  • 她 妈妈 漂亮 tā māma piàoliang .She is prettier than her mother.
  • 星巴克 的 咖啡 这里 的 咖啡 Xīngbākè de kāfēi zhèlǐ de kāfēi guì.The coffee at Starbucks is more expensive than the coffee here.
  • 地铁 公交车 方便Dìtiě gōngjiāochē fāngbiàn.The subway is more convenient than the bus.

Common Errors

Try not to make these mistakes:

The adjective used in the comparison should be positive, not negative.

  • 不 聪明bù cōngming .
  • 聪明cōngming .You are smarter than me.

比 (bǐ) is not used with 一样 (yīyàng). 比 (bǐ) is used when two things are not the same.

  • 一样 聪明 。yīyàng cōngming.
  • 一样 聪明 。gēnyīyàng cōngming.I am as smart as you.

Pattern Using 比 (bǐ) and 更 (gèng)

This is a slight upgrade of the basic 比 (bǐ) comparison pattern, adding in 更 (gèng) before the adjective. 更 (gèng) means "even more," so the idea is that while one thing is already quite [adjective], this other thing is even more [adjective]. Pretty simple!

Structure

Noun 1 + 比 + Noun 2 + 更 + Adj.

The only new thing here is the addition of 更 (gèng) before the adjective.

  • 小李 小张 更 高Xiǎo Lǐ Xiǎo Zhāng gèng gāo .Xiao Li is even taller than Xiao Zhang.

The implication is that while Xiao Zhang is tall, 小李 (Xiǎo Lǐ) is even taller.

Examples

  • 我 哥哥 更 高Wǒ gēge gèng gāo.My big brother is even taller than me.
  • 你 男朋友 我男朋友 更 帅 Nǐ nánpéngyou wǒ nánpéngyou gèng shuài.Your boyfriend is even more handsome than mine.
  • 这里 的 冬天 纽约 的 冬天 更 冷Zhèlǐ de dōngtiān Niǔyuē de dōngtiān gèng lěng.The winter here is even colder than it is in New York.
  • 中文 语法 汉字 更 好玩Zhōngwén yǔfǎ Hànzì gèng hǎowán.Chinese grammar is even more fun than Chinese characters.
  • 你的 问题 我的 问题 更 麻烦Nǐ de wèntí wǒ de wèntí gèng máfan.Your problem is even more troublesome than mine.

See Also

Check these other comparison patterns out as well:

When you're ready for more, we also have a good overview of comparisons in Mandarin Chinese which spans all levels.

Sources and further reading

Books

Websites