I came across the following sentence in an old Japanese text a while ago and am wondering about the use of に here:


Now I am pretty sure that the に here is used to make a comparison. But I have never seen に used like this. So is this use of に to make a comparison common?

  • Common I don't know but when you compare two things you are confronting one in the other. You can also think of it as に対して劣り (inferior against the other)
    – vdegenne
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 17:08
  • Umm.... what sentence? Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 19:42
  • Thank you @Oran Matheus for (re?) entering the relevant Japanese sample sentence. Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


It is rather that 劣{おと}る (and its opposite 勝{まさ}る/優{まさ}る) takes に-phrases. They correspond literally inferior/superior to. So に is used for comparison as commonly as to is used for comparison.

I assume 劣り is a typo for 劣る.

  • Thanks! And no 劣り is not a typo. Might just have to do with this being an early 20th century text.
    – user54907
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 0:14
  • @Polsci54, you can upvote the answer and mark it as resolved if it solved your question.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 0:22
  • 1
    @Polsci54 I see, then it should be a 体言止め.
    – sundowner
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 3:09
  • @sundowner It's just present tense of 劣る verb without any formal ending (e.g. ます). Not a typo, especially if the text is talking about technical things.
    – vdegenne
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 13:38
  • 1
    @vdegenne, the 連用形 of a verb has no tense. Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 23:00

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