666 - ほど～ない
JLPT N4: ほど～ない (not as... as...)
To pass all of the JLPT tests, you have to learn a lot of grammatical constructions using ほど.
We've already written about a couple:
- [NDL #618] - JLPT N3: ほど (so... that)
- [NDL #646] - JLPT N3: かと思うほど（かとおもうほど）
While you're at it, you might want to review the occasionally similar くらい：
- [NDL #331] - JLPT N3: くらい～はない
- [NDL #604] - JLPT N3: くらい (just; only)
- [NDL #611] - JLPT N3: くらい (so... that)
- [NDL #318] - JLPT N2: くらいなら
Or you can take the lazy option and just think of ほど as meaning something like "extent" or "degree."
When we say "NOUN ＋ ほど ＋ ～ない (i.e. a negative word or phrase)," it means something like "not as ～ as NOUN."
たしかに わたし の へや は きたない です。 でも、 あね の へや ほど くさくないです。
There’s no denying that my room is dirty. But it doesn’t smell as bad as my sister’s room.
Literally: “certainly + I + の + room + は + dirty + です. + but, + older sister + の + room + ほど + not smelly + です.”
Let's take a closer look at that last phrase:
あね の へや ほど くさくないです。
It doesn’t smell as bad as my sister’s room.
Literally: “older sister + の + room + ほど + not smelly + です.”
The formation is:
NOUN ＋ ほど ＋ [negative phrase]
In this sentence, we have:
NOUN ＝ (姉の)部屋 ＝ (my sister's) room
[negative phrase] ＝ 臭くないです ＝ is not smelly
my sister's room ほど is not smelly
→ is not as smelly as my sister's room
ほど～ない is used when you are comparing two things.
It means: Thing #1 and Thing #2 are not all that different, but Thing #2 is [something] to a greater degree than Thing #1.
In our sentence above, Thing #1 was "my room," and Thing #2 was "my sister's room."
Thing #2 will be the NOUN in our construction, by the way.
So, let's see what happens when we want to say that whales (=Thing #1) cannot swim as fast as tuna (=Thing #2):
クジラ は マグロ ほど はやく およげません。
Whales cannot swim as fast as tuna.
Literally: “whale + は + tuna + ほど + quickly + cannot swim.”
It is worth mentioning that we should only use ほど～ない when Things #1 and #2 are not drastically different.
For example, this would sound a bit off:
✖ フェルプス せんしゅ は マグロ ほど はやく およげません。
✖ Phelps cannot swim as fast as a tuna fish.
✖ Literally: “Phelps + player + は + tuna + ほど + quickly + cannot swim.”
Olympic swimmers only swim about 5.3 mph (=8.5 kph), by the way. But a yellowfin tuna, for example, can swim up to 47 mph (=75 kph). These are important things to know.
Another example for your perusal:
タイ りょうり レストラン は まえ から ありました が、 いま ほど にんき ではありませんでした。
Thai restaurants have been around for a while, but they weren’t as popular as they are now.
Literally: “Thai + cooking + restaurant + は + before + from + there was + but, + now + ほど + popular + were not.”
And now an example in a dialogue:
テキサス は あつい です か。
Is Texas hot?
Literally: “Texas + は + hot + です + か.”
ええ、 でも、 まなつ の とうきょう ほど ではありません。
Yeah, but it’s not as hot as Tokyo in the middle of the summer.
Literally: “yeah, + but, + middle of summer + の + Tokyo + ほど + is not.”
I'm not familiar enough with Texas to know whether this is true. If I had to guess, I'd say that Texas has higher temperatures but lower humidity.
On another note, few places in the world will ever feel as hot to me as Tokyo in the middle of summer... because I used to walk to work wearing a tie and feeling sorry for myself every day.
Although earlier I said that the formula for making these sentences was "NOUN＋ ほど ＋ [negative phrase]," it is actually possibly to put something that is NOT a NOUN in front of ほど, as in this example:
ヴェネツィア で たべた ピザ は、 きたい していた ほど おいしくなかった です。
The pizza that I had in Venice wasn’t as good as I had expected it to be.
Literally: “Venice + で + ate + pizza + は, + expectation + was doing + ほど + was not tasty + です.”
And here's one more like that:
シーエー の しごと は みんな が おもっている ほど はなやか ではありません。
Working as a flight attendant is not as glamorous as everyone thinks it is.
Literally: “flight attendant (CA = cabin attendant) + の + job + は + everyone + が + is thinking + ほど + brilliant / showy + is not.”
It's not that spicy.
While we're at it, let's also pick up the phrase それほど, which means "that much" or "to that extent."
I find it interesting that literally saying "that extent" is similar to how we use the word "that" in English.
Consider this example:
How is it? Is it spicy?
Literally: “how? + spicy?”
いや、 それほど でもない よ。
Nah, it’s not that spicy.
Literally: “nah, + that much / to that extent + it is not (like that) + よ.”
↑ That example fits the ほど～ない pattern that we've been focusing on in this lesson, but it is also possible to use それほど without a negative phrase coming after it.
Here's an example, to show what I mean:
それほど きらい なら、 わかれれば いい じゃん。
If you hate him that much, just break up with him.
Literally: “that much / to that extent + disliked / hated + if (it is the case), + should break up (=if [you] break up + good) + じゃん.”
↑ For more on sentences like that, review this lesson: [NDL #618] - JLPT N3: ほど (so... that).
We had a lot of examples in this lesson. How many times did you read them?
I think a good goal is at least once. Hardcore students are welcome to read them 14,220 times. But no more than that.
Noticed any typos we've missed or other issues?
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