Understanding the Comparative ‘比 (bǐ)’ Sentence Structure in Mandarin Chinese HSK2


In Mandarin Chinese, expressing comparisons involves a unique grammatical structure centered around the character’ 比 (bǐ)’, meaning ‘to compare’. This article delves into the nuances of the ‘比 (bǐ)’ sentence structure, highlighting its fundamental components, variations, and practical usage in Mandarin. Understanding this structure is crucial for learners to effectively communicate comparisons in a language that operates very differently from English in this regard.

Fundamentals of ‘比 (bǐ)’ Sentence Structure

The basic structure of a comparative sentence using ‘比 (bǐ)’ in Mandarin follows a simple pattern:

Subject + 比 + Comparative Object + Adjective/Verb Phrase

For instance:

  • 我比他高。 (Wǒ bǐ tā gāo.) – “I am taller than him.”

In this structure, ‘我 (wǒ)’ is the subject, ‘比 (bǐ)’ indicates comparison, ‘他 (tā)’ is the object of comparison, and ‘高 (gāo)’ is the adjective that completes the comparison.

Variations in the ‘比 (bǐ)’ Structure

Adding Degree with Adverbs: To express the extent of comparison, adverbs like ‘更 (gèng)’, meaning ‘more’, or ‘没那么 (méi nàme)’, meaning ‘not as,’ can be added.

    • 他比我更聪明。 (Tā bǐ wǒ gèng cōngmíng.) – “He is smarter than me.”

Using Numbers for Specific Comparisons: When indicating a specific degree of difference, numbers and measure words can be used.

    • 他比我高十厘米。 (Tā bǐ wǒ gāo shí límǐ.) – “He is ten centimeters taller than me.”

Negative Comparisons: To indicate that someone or something is ‘less than’ or ‘not as much as,’ ‘不如 (bùrú)’ is often used instead of ‘比.’

    • 我的中文不如他的好。 (Wǒ de zhōngwén bùrú tā de hǎo.) – “My Chinese is not as good as his.”

Practical Usage and Cultural Notes

Avoiding Direct Comparisons: In Chinese culture, direct comparisons, especially those that might appear confrontational or boastful, are often avoided. Using indirect or more humble ways to express differences is more common.

Emphasis on Context: Context plays a crucial role in understanding and using ‘比 (bǐ)’ sentences. Depending on the situation, the same sentence can have different connotations.

Frequency in Everyday Language: The ‘比 (bǐ)’ structure is widely used in every day Chinese, from discussing skills and abilities to comparing prices in shopping.


Mastering the ‘比 (bǐ)’ sentence structure is a gateway to expressing comparisons effectively in Mandarin Chinese. This structure, with its various adaptations, reflects the subtleties and richness of the language. As learners incorporate these patterns into their Mandarin, they will be better equipped to engage in more nuanced and culturally appropriate conversations. Understanding and effectively using ‘比 (bǐ)’ is a linguistic skill and a step towards deeper cultural immersion and understanding.


What does ‘比 (bǐ)’ mean in Mandarin?

‘比 (bǐ)’ is a preposition used in Mandarin Chinese to indicate a comparison. It is similar to the English ‘than’ in comparative sentences.

Can you give a basic example of a ‘比 (bǐ)’ sentence?

Sure! A simple example would be 我比他高 (Wǒ bǐ tā gāo), which means “I am taller than him.”

How can I express a greater degree of comparison using ‘比 (bǐ)’?

You can use adverbs like ‘更 (gèng),’ meaning ‘more.’ For example, 他比我更聪明 (Tā bǐ wǒ gèng cōngmíng) means “He is smarter than me.”

Is it possible to specify the extent of difference in a ‘比 (bǐ)’ sentence?

Yes, you can use numbers and measure words. For instance, 他比我高十厘米 (Tā bǐ wǒ gāo shí límǐ) means “He is ten centimeters taller than me.”

How do you say ‘not as much as’ in Mandarin using a comparative structure?

You would typically use ‘不如 (bùrú)’. For example, 我的中文不如他的好 (Wǒ de zhōngwén bùrú tā de hǎo) means “My Chinese is not as good as his.”

Is it culturally acceptable to make direct comparisons in Chinese?

Direct comparisons can be seen as aggressive or boastful in Chinese culture. It’s often preferable to use more indirect or humble expressions.

Why is context important in using ‘比 (bǐ)’ sentences?

Context determines how a comparative sentence is understood. Depending on the situation, the same sentence can have different meanings or implications.

Are ‘比 (bǐ)’ structures commonly used in everyday Mandarin?

Yes, they are widely used in various contexts, from discussing personal abilities to comparing prices while shopping.

Can ‘比 (bǐ)’ be used with verbs and adjectives?

Yes, ‘比 (bǐ)’ can be used with adjectives and verbs to make comparisons.

What is a crucial takeaway for learners about using ‘比 (bǐ)’ in Mandarin?

Understanding and correctly using ‘比 (bǐ)’ is essential for expressing comparisons in Mandarin. It’s a linguistic tool and a way to engage more appropriately and effectively in Chinese cultural contexts.

Contact our head teacher, Chen Huimin, at info@lcchineseschool.com if you want to learn Chinese or have additional questions about our Chinese programs. 

Sign up for a free trial class here.

Learn about our Internship Program in China.

Get free Chinese learning resources.

Learn about China’s 2024 Offical Holiday Schedule


Sign up for a free trial class here.

Sign up for classes here.

Learn more about our Chinese Summer Camp for Children here.

Learn about our Internship Program in China.

Get free Chinese learning resources.

Learn about China’s 2024 Offical Holiday Schedule

Ønsker du en gratis prøveklasse? Registrer deg!

Bli med på en gratis prøveklasse i kinesisk!

Do you want a Free Trial Chinese Class? Register now!

Join a Free Trial Chinese Class!