City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Aug 13, 2020 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points)
edited Oct 19, 2020 by Ariel | 198 views

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(比), jiào(較) and bǐ jiào(比較) are common comparison markers in Chinese. When used in the comparison, (比) and jiào(較) function as prepositions, while bǐ jiào(比較) serves as an adverb with the feature [+ comparison] in most cases. Tǐng (挺) is seldom used in the comparison, but in the description, it is a degree adverb mostly used in colloquial language, meaning “pretty” or “quite”.


  nǐ de zhōng wén tǐng hǎo de.

  Your Chinese is pretty good.

The comparison between subjects or topics is generally expressed in the formula:

A () B + dimension being compared

The dimension being compared must be capable of being qualified or measured, which includes adjectives and verbs that can be modified by degree adverbs. The degree adverb gèng (更) has the feature [+ comparison], which can be placed before the adjective or the verb optionally to emphasize the degree.  


    jīn tiān bǐ zuó tiān lěng.

    Today is colder than yesterday.


    wǒ bǐ tā (gèng)xǐ huān shù xué.

    I like math more than he does.

It should be noted that when the dimension being compared is a complement of state, the word order can be slightly flexible.


    wǒ bǐ tā pǎo dé kuài.


    wǒ pǎo dé bǐ tā kuài.

    I run faster than him.

 Compared with (比), jiào(較) focuses more on the dimension being compared as for semantic effect. Therefore, the specific dimension being compared is necessary. The specific difference in degree induced by the comparison is also indispensable.


    jīn tiān de qì wēn jiào zuó tiān dī hěn duō.

    The temperature today is much lower than yesterday.

The topic-comment structure usually collocates with bǐ jiào(比較) to compare two objects. In the following sentence, “Math” and “English” are two objects of the verb xǐ huān喜歡(like), therefore, bǐ jiào(比較) should be used to emphasis the degree of the verb xǐ huān喜歡.


     shù xué hé yīng yǔ, wǒ bǐ jiào xǐ huān yīng yǔ.

     I like English more than math.

Also, when the two items being compared have been mentioned, bǐ jiào(比較) is used to imply a comparison since bǐ jiào(比較) functions more as an adverb which focuses more on the degree of the adjective or verb.


   xiǎo zhāng hé xiǎo wáng dōu hěn cōng míng, dàn shì xiǎo zhāng bǐ jiào rèn zhēn.

   Xiao Zhang and Xiao Wang are both very clever, but Xiao Zhang is more conscientious.

answered Oct 19, 2020 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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