Every language has its own secret words. Native speakers say them day in and day out, as regularly as dropping by the grocery store. But we language learners still remain unaware of how those words can make us jump instantly from a beginner to someone who has been studying the language for ten years. Well, I might be exaggerating a bit, but they are truly magical.
In Chinese, 比较 is at the top of the list. We all know when making a comparison in Chinese, we use the pattern (比)。。。(更)。。。. Then we will use 很 to say something that is better or worse than the average. However, 比较 is one expression that will make natives say “Wow,” and trick them into thinking you have actually learned a lot of Chinese!
OK! Let us have a look at how it works. I will break it down for you with examples.
Generally, 比较 has two usages: as an adverb and as a verb.
比较 (adverb): Quite, relatively, rather
Just like relatively in English, 比较 is used in a relative manner. That is to say, when you have two things at hand, you can compare and state the difference between them. We are already familiar with the word 更. 比较 is a good substitute for it.
Compared with the other two movies, this one is relatively new.
Compared to my sister, I am relatively taller.
Now you might ask, can I use 比较 without saying what it is compared with? The answer is yes! That is what makes it distinct, because it is a good way to compare one thing with a general idea, while 更 can only be used to compare two concrete things (or meanings).
我需要一个（更）小的房子。I need a smaller house.
This suggests that you want a house that is smaller than one you had mentioned before. Smaller than the one you live in now, for instance.
我需要一个（比较）小的房子。I need a relatively small house.
When you go to the agent and use this phrase, you are telling him or her, “Hey, I need a house, a small one is fine.”
Ok, more examples:
- 他是个（比较）好的篮球运动员。He is a relatively good basketball player.
- 今天天气（比较）好。Today is quite a nice day.
- 这个（比较）好吃。This tastes pretty good.
Language is culture. Generally, Chinese people are not that good at expressing emotions, especially when it comes to needing to give a negative opinion. We tend to choose mild words in these situations. On the other hand, we use them to play it cool without sounding too excited. In this case, 比较 is like quite, a bit too, or pretty in English. Of course, don’t forget to raise your eyebrows when you just play it cool.
比较 (verb): To compare
To create the action of comparison, 比较 is the most common word to use. Like these:
- （比较）两个国家的文化: to compare the culture of two countries
- （比较）大小: to compare size
Normally, verbs are easy to use, but it is equally important to remember and recognize these phrasal verbs so that you can use them with flexibility and create more sentences.
Here are some of the most useful phrases with 比较:
和。。。比较: to compare to
Don’t compare yourself to the others, compare to yourself.
和。。。比较起来: comparing with
Comparing fried rice with fried noodle, I like fried noodle better.
把（拿）。。。和。。。作比较: making a comparison between
My girlfriend is always making comparisons between her ex and me!
是不能（没办法）和。。。相比较的: cannot (does not) compare with
He does not compare with me. I am much better!
Note: 是。。。的 is also a useful pattern to describe or to make emphasis.
Other Common Terms
Last but not least, by combining 比较 with certain words, you can create some of the most common words or terms in English. Here, I will give you three of them. You can go find and combine your favorites.
I prefer summer.
比较好: would better
You would better do it like this.
比较可能: It is more likely
It is more likely to rain tomorrow.
Well done! Now you know how to use the word. All you need is to say it and practice more!