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Various uses of 「」 and 「よる」

If you were wondering how to make comparison in Japanese, well wonder no more. We will learn how to use 「」 and 「より」 to make comparisons between two things. We will also learn other uses of 「」 and 「よる」 along the way.

Using 「」 for comparisons

The noun 「」 is read as 「ほう」 when it is used to mean a direction or orientation. It can also be read as 「かた」 when it is used as a politer version of 「」. But that's neither here nor there. When we use 「」 to mean direction, we can use it for comparison by saying one way of things is better, worse, etc., than the other way. Grammatically, it works just like any other regular nouns.


Use it with nouns by utilizing the 「の」 particle.
(1) ご飯おいしい。- Rice is tastier. (lit: The way of rice is tasty.)
(2) 鈴木さん若い。- Suzuki-san is younger. (lit: The way of Suzuki is young.)

Grammatically, it's no different from a regular noun.
(3) 学生じゃないいいよ。- It's better to not be a student. (lit: The way of not being student is good.)
(4) 赤ちゃんは、静か好き。- Like quiet babies more. (lit: About babies, the quiet way is desirable.)

The tricky part of making comparisons with verb is the use of tenses. For absolutely no reason, non-negative verbs must always be past tense.
(5) ゆっくり食べた健康いいよ。- It's better for your health to eat slowly.
(6) こちらから行った早かった。- It was faster to go from this way.

The same thing does not apply for negative verbs.
(7) マトリックス・レボリューション観ないいいよ。- It's better not to watch "Matrix Revolution".

The negative verb is only in the past tense when the comparison is of something that happened in the past.
(8) そんな飲まなかったよかった。- It was better not to have drunk that much.

Using 「より」 for comparisons

You can think of 「より」 as being the opposite of 「」. It means, "rather than" or "as opposed to". It attaches directly to the back of any word. It is usually used in conjunction with 「」 to say something like, "This way is better as opposed to that way."


(1) より団子
- Dango rather than flowers. (This is a very famous proverb.)

(2) ご飯が、パンよりおいしい
- Rice tastes better than bread. (lit: The rice way is tasty as opposed to bread.)

(3) キムさんより鈴木さん若い
- Suzuki-san is younger than Kim-san. (lit: The way of Suzuki is young as opposed to Kim-san.)

For those curious about the meaning of the proverb, dango is a sweet doughy treat usually sold at festivals. The proverb is saying that people prefer this treat to watching the flowers, referring to the 「花見」 event where people go out to see the cherry blossoms (and get smashed). The deeper meaning of the proverb, like all good proverbs, depends on how you apply it.

Of course, there is no rule that 「より」 must be used with 「」. The other way of things can be gleaned from context.
鈴木) 毎日仕事行くのがだ。- I don't like going to work everyday.
(スミス) 仕事ないよりましだよ。- It's not as bad as opposed to not having a job.

Words associated with 「より」 do not need any tense. Notice in the following sentence that 「食べる」 in front of 「より」 is present tense even though 「食べる」 in front of 「」 is past tense.
(1) ゆっくり食べた早く食べるよりいい。- It is better to eat slowly as opposed to eating quickly.

Using 「より」 as a superlative

You can also use 「より」 with question words such as 「」、「」、or 「どこ」 to make a superlative by comparing with everything or everybody else. In this case, though not required, it is common to include the 「も」 particle.


(1) 商品品質より大切しています
- We place value in product's quality over anything else.

(2) この仕事よりも早くできます
- Can do this job more quickly than anyone else.

Using 「」 to express a way to do something

You can also attach 「」 to the stem of verbs to express a way to do that verb. In this usage, 「」 is read as 「かた」 and the result becomes a noun. For example, 「行き」(いきかた) means, "the way to go" or 「食べ」(たべかた)means, "the way to eat". This expression is probably what you want to use when you want to ask how to do something.


(1) 新宿行き分かりますか。
- Do you know the way to go to Shinjuku?

(2) そういう食べよくないよ。
- Eating in that way is not good for your body.

(3) 漢字書き教えてくれますか?
- Can you teach me the way of writing kanji?

(4) パソコン使いは、みんな知っているでしょう。
- Probably everybody knows the way to use PC's.

When verbs are transformed to this form, the result becomes a noun clause. Sometimes, this requires a change of particles. For instance, while 「行く」 usually involves a target (the 「に」 or 「へ」 particle), since 「行き」 is a noun clause, (1) becomes 「新宿行き」 instead of the familiar 「新宿行く」.

Using 「によって」 to express dependency

When you want to say, "depending on [X]", you can do this in Japanese by simply attaching 「によって」 to [X].


(1) によって違う
- The story is different depending on the person.

(2) 季節によって果物おいしくなったりまずくなったりする
- Fruit becomes tasty or nasty depending on the season.

This is simply the te-form of 「よる」 as seen by the following simple exchange.
和子) 今日飲み行こうか?- Shall we go drinking today?
大樹) それは、裕子よるね。- That depends on Yuuko.

Indicating a source of information using 「によると」

Another expression using 「よる」 is by using it with the target and the decided conditional 「と」 to indicate a source of information. In English, this would translate to "according to [X]" where 「によると」 is attached to [X].


(1) 天気予報によると今日だそうだ。
- According to the weather forecast, I hear today is rain.

(2) 友達によると朋子やっとボーイフレンド見つけたらしい。
- According to a friend's story, it appears that Tomoko finally found a boyfriend.

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This page has last been revised on 2005/1/5