It can seem a trivial question but I am quite struggling. I would like to translate a sentence form like this one:

[noun1] is more/less [adjective1] than [noun2] is [adjective2].

  • 2
    Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/46909/5010 although I'm not sure if this is applicable to the concrete sentence you have in mind.
    – naruto
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 2:50
  • 4
    There doesn't seem to be a fits-all solution in Japanese. What do you exactly want to translate? Commented May 17, 2017 at 2:52

2 Answers 2


You can turn the adjectives into nouns and compare them like such.

[noun1] [adjective1] さは、 [noun2] [adjective2] さより ___ 。

For example:


John's cleverness is more impressive than Mary's beauty.

or could be written as:


John's cleverness exceeds Mary's beauty.

using the verb "to exceed". This way still shows that the best way to compare two elements in different fields is to turn them into nouns and use them as such.

  • 1
    Yes. The key is to change the adjectives into nouns themselves before comparing with a third adjective. Other examples: この箱の高さはその箱の広さより低い (This box's height is lower than that box's width) or (This box is shorter than that box is wide).
    – tcallred
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 16:08
  • 2
    ^ (Seems like someone deleted their comment so I can't see who you're responding to but) By "other examples" do you mean it's also acceptable to say that way? この箱の高さはその箱の広さより低い sounds unnatural. Is it natural to say "This box's height is lower than that box's width" or "This box is shorter than that box is wide" in English? Or were you saying these are unnatural?
    – chocolate
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 0:42
  • The sentence itself is pretty strange, in all honesty. But, it is correct English technically, so maybe that was a bad example. I was trying to come up with an example that better fit the original question. Does this answer seem like the best way to say this kind of phrase in Japanese?
    – tcallred
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 2:34
  • 3
    そうですね・・・It might depend on each context... 「ジョンさんの賢さはメアリーさんの美しさを上回っている」とかどうでしょうかね・・? 「この箱の高さはその箱のより短い 」ならいいと思います。
    – chocolate
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:00
  • それはいいと思います。ありがとうございます.
    – tcallred
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:04

I would give you a derivative idea based on the clever idea of turning the adjectives into nouns before comparing them by T.Allred, as:

ジョンさんの賢さの程度{ていど} はメアリーさんの美しさの程度より(ずっと)上だ/下だ。
The degree of John's cleverness is (much) higher/lower than that of Mary's beauty.

You can also use 優{すぐ}れている/劣{おと}っている or 上{うえ}である/下{した}である instead of 上{うえ}だ/ 下{した}だ.

If you use the clever idea more, you can express it in various ways.

  • ジョンさんの賢さとメアリーさんの美しさ(と)を比{くら}べると、ジョンさんの(賢さの)方{ほう}が(ずっと)上だ/下だ。

  • ジョンさんの賢さとメアリーさんの美しさとでは、ジョンさんの(賢さの)方{ほう}が(ずっと)上だ/下だ。

About the use of several similar expressions:

I'll show you similar expressions sentence 1 to 5. They are divided into three groups: 1, 2-3 and 4-5.

  1. ジョンさんの賢さとメアリーさんの美しさでは、ジョンさんが上だ。
  2. ジョンさんの賢さとメアリーさんの美しさでは、ジョンさんの方が上だ。
  3. ジョンさんの賢さとメアリーさんの美しさでは、ジョンさんの方が上だ。
  4. ジョンさんの賢さとメアリーさんの美しさでは、ジョンさんの賢さの方が上だ。
  5. ジョンさんの賢さとメアリーさんの美しさでは、ジョンさんの賢さの方が上だ。

Among them, group 2-3 and group 4-5 are common and natural Japanese expressions.

As for group 2-3 and group 4-5, group 2-3 is more commonly used than group 4-5, because the latter one is a little tedious.

In a group 2-3, the sentence 2 is made by omitting と in the sentence 3, and in a group 4-5, the sentence 4 is made in the same way from the sentence 5. Though the sentence 3 and 5 are grammatically more correct and formal, the sentence 2 and 4 are more commonly used.

Last but not least, as for the sentence 1, this expression makes sense, but I don't think it is appropriate to use it, because it may induce an unintended misunderstanding. The reason is that originally this expression is given as an example to compare the wisdom of John with the beauty of Mary, but the sentence has an implication that all personalities of John are superior to that of Mary, which is not the intention of the speaker.

  • Thanks! That's exactly what I wanted to translate! But is it a common thing using 上/下 to express the ideas of better/worse ?
    – Chewie
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 10:52
  • @Chewie: >is it a common thing using 上/下 to express the ideas of better/worse ? Yes. By the way, I'm going to add another information to my answer. When I finished posting the additional answer, I'll tell it to you.
    – user20624
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 11:58
  • @Chewie: You can also use 優{すぐ}れている/劣{おと}っている or 上{うえ}である/下{した}である instead of 上{うえ}だ/ 下{した}だ
    – user20624
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 12:14

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