8

I know how to use ほうが to express suggestions (you should, etc) as we as comparisions with より、いい, as well as paired with i-stem verbs to express "way of doing," but I've come across it in certain contexts I don't understand. For instance, to study, I like to translate song lyrics, and I'm stuck on these ones from テイク5 by Utada Hikaru:

会わないほうが ケンカすることも

幻滅し合うこともない

I have no clue how to parse or understand the first line. I am fairly certain the second says "and no disillusioning each other," but I don't understand the function of ほうが in the first. No meeting without fighting? But it is a double negative because of the final ない in line 2? No meeting and fighting? Any advice on how to read this appreciated :)

6

方 (ほう) in this context means something like "way".

You probably learned it in fixed expressions like したほうがいい or するほうがましだ where they translate it by "it is better to do..." or "you should do...". But while translating it in such a natural English makes it easy to understand the Japanese expression in the situation you learn it from, it does not help figuring out how to properly use it and even how to correctly understand it in patterns that differ from what you have seen.

The correct way to interpret 方が would be to just translate it literally. I personally see it as "the way of... is..." which isn't what you would say in English but it doesn't really matter.

会いに行った方がいい > The way of having gone to meet is good > you should go to meet (her)

秘密にする方が大変そうだな > The way of making it a secret seems hard > It looks harder to keep it as a secret (than to say it)

行かない方がいい > The way of not going is good > You should not go

You get the point. Now as for your sentence:

会わないほうが ケンカすることも 幻滅し合うこともない > The way of not meeting is (会わない方が) without (ない) doing fights (喧嘩すること) or being disappointed (幻滅し合うこと) > Not meeting avoids fights and disillusionment

I hope it makes sense

3

There is an implied part in those two lines and if we try to add them to the original sentence it would look something like this:

会うより会わないほうがケンカすることも幻滅し合うこともない

There are two things that they don't do and each is given a も at the end: ケンカすること and 幻滅し合うこと. So in the above the song is saying that they don't fight and there is no disillusioning each other if they don't see each other, as compared to if they did.

Songs sometimes do not include implied parts like in this case, so they may seem strange at first.

Edit (addition):

The link below provides several examples of comparative sentences of the ほうが form without the ~より, as well as those with ~より.

映画は、こわいほうが、おもしろいです。

The speaker is saying that when it comes to movies, s/he is interested in the scary ones (over other kinds). "Over other kinds" is implied here.

家は、大学から近いほうが、べんりです。

The speaker is saying that it's convenient if the house is close to the university (rather than not). ( ) is implied.

コーヒーは、熱いほうが好きです。

The speaker likes his/her coffee hot (rather than not). ( ) is implied.

部屋は、広いほうがいいです。

A big room is good. It is implied that the speaker prefers big rooms over small rooms.

テストは簡単なほうがいいです。

The speaker prefers an easy test (over a difficult one). ( ) is implied.

https://j-nihongo.com/houga/

  • It is not really "omitted" because in a lot of case, adding VERB+より just makes the sentence unnatural or feel like it's too much. Also one can be used without the other. It can just be added to help understand the meaning of ほう better – Breton Loïc Sep 5 '18 at 13:46
  • @BretonLoïc No it's not unnatural nor does it feel like too much.「 Aのほうが B より」and it's rearranged version「BよりAのほうが」 are actually common patterns used for making comparisons. See link for examples. Also, I did not say that one cannot be used without the other. Yes, they can stand alone too if what is being compared is already clear. In this case, it's easier for the asker to understand what s/he is missing, if I pointed out that one thing is actually being compared to another, and that is 会う vs 会わない. – DXV Sep 6 '18 at 2:26
  • It does feel too much when what is being compared is clear, especially in sentences like "家は、大学から近いほうが、べんりです。", nobody would add 遠いより to this kind of sentence in real life. And I was just pointing out the word "omit" that you used. Omitting something means that it should have been there in the first place yet you chose not put it. To which I replied that it's not really omitted because one is not dependent on the other as you showed with your sentences. But this is just me nitpicking – Breton Loïc Sep 6 '18 at 3:07
  • 1
    @BretonLoïc Ah I see. I edited the answer and removed mention of "omit". Thanks! – DXV Sep 7 '18 at 7:01

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