There is a clause pattern 「XければXほどY」. For example, 「近【ちか】ければ近【ちか】いほど便【べん】利【り】」 which means something like "the nearer it is, the more convenient it will be". Can I shorten the clause to 「近【ちか】いほど便【べん】利【り】」? Will it have the same meaning?

But I have a feeling when I use 「XほどY」 when X and Y are opposite to each other, it will give the meaning of "X yet Y" in English. For example, 「近【ちか】いほど届【とど】かない」 would give the meaning of "close yet unreachable", in a poetic sense. Am I right?

  • @dave, btw, todokanai -> "unreachable", "todokenai" -> "cannot send/receive", they are different IMHO.
    – YOU
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 5:41

3 Answers 3


The answer to the first question is yes.

The answer to the second question is no. 近いほど届かない (chikai hodo todokanai) means “the closer it (or you, he, she, …) is, the more unreachable it (or you, he, she, …) becomes,” exactly in the same way as 近いほど便利 (chikai hodo benri) means “the closer it is, the more convenient it becomes.” And in the sentence “the closer you are, the more unreachable you become,” the word “closer” probably refers to physical distance but “unreachable” refers to the difficulty of telling how the speaker feels about the person who is referred to to that person.

  • any comments on whether it is also applicable to X-eba X hodo Y of verb X? From what I understand, if you omit the X-eba, the meaning will become "It's Y to the extent of X-ing"
    – syockit
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 0:31
  • @syockit: This equally applies to “X-eba X hodo Y.” The form “X-eba X hodo Y” is unambiguous because, as you noticed, “X hodo Y” has another meaning. But if I see 近いほど届かない (chikai hodo todokanai) in a poem or a lyric, I would somehow understand it as the same meaning as 近ければ近いほど届かない (chiakereba chikai hodo todokanai) without fear of ambiguity. I began wondering why. (more) Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 1:09
  • @syockit: (cont’d) A possible (retrospective) reason might be because X is an adjective in this case. I noticed that at least in some usages of “X hodo Y” that means “It’s Y to the extent of X” that I can think of right now, X is always either a noun or a verb. But I am not sure if this reasoning is correct. Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 1:10
  • Whoops I'm wrong! There's something like 北へ行くほど寒くなる. In that case, it's a short form for 行けば行くほど
    – syockit
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 1:33

"chikakereba chikai hodo benri" and "chikai hodo benri" have similar meaning.

but "chikai hodo todokanai" is not correct usage, if you want to join positve (chikai) + negative (todokanai), you need to use "kedo" like "chikai kedo todokanai"


Yes, you can shorten it and it will have the same meaning.

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