Comparisons in Japanese can be made with a couple of different constructions.

Two of the simplest ways to do a comparison are to use “yori” and “no hou ga”. The meaning of “yori” can simply be put in English as the construct “is less than”, and “no hou ga” can be simply put as “is more than”. The constructs can be used separately or even be put together if wanting to be very clear. The word “hodo” can also be used in comparisons.

Other ways of comparing or showing how things relate is to say that something is number one – ichiban. To say the word compare in Japanese you can use the word 比べる,  kuraberu.

のほうが - No hou ga

No hou ga is put after the word that fits the description best in comparison.

Sushi no hou ga suki desu.
I like sushi better.

boku no hou ga ii desu.
I am better.

より – Yori

Yori is put after the word that is not considered to fit the description as well as the alternative.

A は B より赤いです。
A wa B yori akai desu
A is more red than B. (Literally: Regarding A, B is less red)

Pan wa yakiniku yori yasui desu
Bread is cheaper than yakiniku. (Literally: Regarding bread, yakiniku is less cheap)

Kanada wa Nihon yori ookii desu.
Canada is larger than Japan.

Nihon yori Kanada wa ookii desu.
Canada is larger than Japan.

Nihon yori Kanada no hou ga ookii desu.
Canada is larger than Japan.


Hodo is put before a word to state that it is more suitable/correct in the comparison.

Nihon wa Kanada hodo ookikunai desu.
Japan is not as large as Canada.


Ichiban 一番 is the Japanese counter for ordinal numbers, i.e. when saying in which order things come. When using ichiban, you state the one that is first and foremost in the comparison.

Kono suupaa ha ichiban yasui desu.
This is the cheapest supermarket.

Torako wa neko no naka de ichiban kawaii desu.
Torako is the most beautiful of all cats.

Torako wa Edomonton de ichiban kawaii desu.
Torako is the most beautiful (cat) in Edmonton.

Comparison in Questions

When asking someone to compare things, you can simply line up the alternatives and add “which one is ___?” in the end.

Kanada to Nihon to dewa dochira ga ookii desu ka.
Which is larger, Canada or Japan?

Nezumi to inu to dewa dochira ga kawaii desu ka.
Which are the more attractive, mice or dogs?


This page is based on a modified version of  “Some Notes on Japanese Grammar” published for your personal use, with the kind permission of Keith Smillie (