Lesson 89: Comparing using fractions and orders of magnitute

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To compare: 비교하다
Comparing with 비해다
Orders of Magnitude: 배
Korean Fractions




화가 = painter
밤중 = the middle of the night
모음 = vowel
자음 = consonant
인삼 = ginseng
성함 = a high respect way to refer to somebody’s name
필통 = pencil case
베개 = pillow
강당 = lecture hall, auditorium
일종 = one type of…
성분 = ingredients, components
앞니 = front teeth
어금니 = molars
자판기 = vending machine
이민자 = immigrant
연락처 = one’s contact information
시아버지 = a woman’s father in law
시어머니 = a woman’s mother in law

비하다 = to compare to
끼어들다 = to cut in-front of, to bud-in
이민하다 = to immigrate

특이하다 = to be unusual, to be unique

Adverbs and Other Words:
생전 = in one’s whole life
재작년 = two years ago, the year before last



In this lesson, you will learn a variety of new words and grammatical principles that you can use in comparative sentences. Previously, way back in Lesson 19, you learned how to make comparisons in sentences by using ~보다. In this lesson, you will learn how 비교하다 and ~에 비해 can also be used to make comparisons. In addition, you will learn how to compare situations using orders of magnitude and fractions. Let’s get started!


To compare: 비교하다

Before we get into anything too complicated, I want to talk about the word “비교하다” briefly. 비교하다 is an actual verb that means “to compare,” which makes it different than ~보다. Where ~보다 is a particle that is attached directly to a noun that is being compared, 비교하다 is a verb that is conjugated at the end of a clause or sentence. 비교하다 can be used simply in sentences to mean “to compare.” For example:

저를 그 사람과 비교하지 마세요
= Don’t compare me with that person

저의 시어머니가 저를 자기 딸과 항상 비교해요
= My mother-in-law always compares me to her daughter

우리는 수업 시간에 이 화가를 옛날 화가하고 비교했어요
= During class, we compared this painter with painters from a long time ago

Notice that ~와, ~과, ~랑, ~이랑 or ~하고 should be attached to the noun that the object is being compared with.

You can use the grammatical principles that you learned in Lesson 43 to create sentences that say “if/when one compares.” For example:

저를 그 사람과 비교하면 저는 더 똑똑해 보여요
= If you compare me to that person, I look smarter

이 차를 BMW와 비교하면 이 차는 훨씬 싸요
= If you compare this car with a BMW, this car is much cheaper

이 베개를 저것과 비교하면 이 베개가 훨씬 부드러워요
= If you compare this pillow with that one, this pillow is much softer

다른 건강 식품과 비교하면 인삼이 몸에 더 좋아요
= If you compare ginseng to other health products, ginseng is better for your body

You could use ~보다 (from Lesson 19) to create essentially the same meaning as these sentences. For example:

저는 그 사람보다 더 똑똑해 보여요 = I look smarter than that person
이 차는 BMW보다 훨씬 싸요 = This car is much cheaper than a BMW

The “비” in “비교하다” originates from the Chinese (Hanja) character 比 which refers to a comparison. Another Korean word where you can find this character is 비하다 (比하다), which can be used to create sentences similar in meaning (and structure) to those with ~보다. I will talk about this in the following section.


Comparing with 비하다

비하다 is a verb that is similar in function to verbs like 대하다 (Lesson 13), 위하다 (Lesson 13) and 관하다 (Lesson 34). Let’s look at how these words are used:

그 회계사는 정부에 대해 나쁜 말을 했어요
= That accountant said bad things about the government

저는 친구를 위해 빵을 만들었어요
= I made bread for my friend

이 문제에 관해 회의가 있을 것이다
= There will be a meeting relating to this problem

비하다 is often used like these words. If you attach ~에 to a noun and place 비해(서) after it, you can compare that noun to something else. For example:

우리 아들은 또래에 비해 훨씬 똑똑해요
= Our son is much smarter compared to his peers

한국어는 영어에 비해 모음이 더 많아요
= There are more vowels in the Korean language compared to English

동물의 어금니가 앞니에 비해 더 강해요
= The molars of animals are stronger compared to their front teeth

한국 인구는 캐나다 인구에 비해 조금 많아요
= The population of Korea is a little bit higher compared to the population of Canada

우리 학교는 다른 학교에 비해 영어 선생님이 많아요
= Our school has more English teachers compared to other schools



Orders of Magnitude:

Now that you know how to use ~보다, ~에 비해 and 비교하다 to make comparisons, I want to teach you how to compare things by orders of magnitude. For example, you already know how to create a sentence like this:

I am stronger than you

But you haven’t been able to state that you are stronger by a certain order of magnitude. For example, to create these types of sentences:

I am twice as strong as you, or
I am three times stronger than you

To create these types of sentences, “배” acts a counter of orders of magnitude. Note that because we are counting things (we are counting orders of magnitudes), the number before “배” should be a pure Korean number – just like any other counter.

For example:

두 배 = twice (two times)
세 배 = three times
네 배 = four times

You can use these constructions in sentences to compare things by a certain order of magnitude. For example:

두 배 더 강하다 = two times stronger (twice as strong)
다섯 배 더 똑똑하다 = five times smarter

These constructions can then go into sentences where appropriate. For example:

저는 저의 남동생보다 두 배 더 강해요
= I am twice as strong as my younger brother

저는 재작년에 비해 돈을 두 배 더 벌고 있어요
= I am earning twice as much as I did the year before last

이 자판기가 편의점보다 식품을 세 배 더 비싸게 팔아요
= This vending machine sells food products for three times the price (three times more expensively) of a convenience store

우리 학교 강당은 제가 다녔던 중학교 강당에 비해 두 배 더 넓어요
= Our school’s auditorium is twice as big/wide as the auditorium of the middle school I used to attend

캐나다 사람들은 그 나라 사람들보다 생전에 돈을 두 배 더 벌 수 있어요
= Canadians can earn twice as much money in their lives as people of that country

우리 학교 학생들은 같은 나이에 다른 학교 학생들보다 다섯 배 더 똑똑해요
= The students at our school are five times smarter than students of the same age at different schools

이 줄이 다른 줄보다 두 배 더 빨리 움직여서 사람들이 자꾸 이 줄에 끼어들어요
= This line is moving twice as fast as other lines, so people keep budding into this line

In practice (in English and Korean), you don’t need to state what you are comparing to – as often times constructions like “twice as much” or “ten times as much” are compared to the implied present or original situation. For example:

그 동안 집값은 열 배 비싸졌어요
= During that time the price of went up ten fold

우리는 두 배 더 빨리 가고 싶어요
= We want to go twice as fast

밤중에 택시를 타면 가격은 세 배 더 비싸요
= If you take a taxi in the middle of the night, the price is three times more expensive

지난 10년 동안 한국 생활 수준은 두 배 높아졌어요
= Over the past ten years, the standard of living in Korea doubled

Sometimes you will see ~(으)로 added to 배. My wife feels that the example sentences above (without ~(으)로) are equivalent in meaning to the sentences below (with ~(으)로). If anything, she says that the sentences above would be more common. Nonetheless, these are grammatically possible:

저는 재작년에 비해 돈을 두 배로 더 벌고 있어요
이 자판기가 편의점보다 식품을 세 배로 더 비싸게 팔아요
우리 학교 강당은 제가 다녔던 중학교 강당에 비해 두 배로 더 넓어요
우리 학교 학생들은 같은 나이에 다른 학교 학생들보다 다섯 배로 더 똑똑해요
캐나다 사람들은 그 나라 사람들보다 생전에 돈을 두 배로 더 벌 수 있어요
이 줄이 다른 줄보다 두 배로 더 빨리 움직여서 사람들이 자꾸 이 줄에 끼어들어요
우리는 두 배로 더 빨리 가고 싶어요
그 동안 집값은 열 배로 비싸졌어요
밤중에 택시를 타면 가격은 세 배로 더 비싸요
지난 10년 동안 한국 생활수준은 두 배로 높아졌어요


If you want to use a number with a decimal, you can use the word “점” in Korean which literally translates to a “point” or “spot.” Take note of how the numbers below would be pronounced:

2.5 = “이 점 오”
3.6 = “삼 점 육”
10.4 = “십 점 사”

We can compare things by orders of magnitude using numbers with decimals. The numeral is typically written instead of the words (for example, writing 2.5 instead of 두 점 오) when writing numbers containing a decimal. For example:

그 주식 가격은 2.5배로 올랐어요
= That stock’s price went up 2.5 fold


Now that you know how to compare things by orders of magnitude of whole numbers, it would be good to learn how to do this with fractions. I will talk about this in the next section.



Korean Fractions

Using fractions to say “one half,” “one third” or “one quarter” in Korean is counter-intuitive as an English speaker. When creating a fraction in Korean, the denominator (the number on the bottom) is said first, and the numerator (the number on the top) is said last. Between the two, “분의” should be said. For example:

2분의 1 = one half
4분의 1 = one quarter
5분의 2 = two fifths
3분의 1 = one third

“분” comes from the Chinese character 分 which (if you have been keeping up with your Hanja studies, you should know) refers to a part or division. Essentially, when you say something like “4분의 1,” you are literally saying “one part of four.”

A few things to note before we move on:

1) The Chinese numbers (일, 이, 삼, 사, etc..) are used when speaking these numbers. For example:

1/4 is read as “사 분의 일”
2/5 is read as “오 분의 이”
1/3 is read as “삼 분의 일”

2) “의” is typically pronounced as “에” in these constructions. You might want to check out our pronunciation notes of 의 to learn more about this phenomenon. Korean people get confused about this as well, and often think that “~에” should be attached to 분 when they write it because that’s the way they pronounce it.

3) The constructions above show how those fractions would be spoken in Korean. When writing those fractions, it could also be possible to write the fraction.

4) When referring to a portion of some noun as a fraction, the fraction is most commonly placed after the noun with ~의 attached to the noun to describe the fraction. I talk about this function of ~의 as a way to describe things in Lesson 23. For example:

“사람의 2분의 1” = one half of people
“저의 친구의 3분의 1” = one third of (my) friends
“이민자의 10분의 1” = one tenth of immigrants

Grammatically, it is also possible to place the fraction before the noun. In these cases, ~의 is typically added to the fraction so that it can describe the noun. For example:

“2분의 1의 사람” = one half of people
“3 분의 1의 친구” = one third of (my) friends
“10 분의 1의 이민자” = one tenth of immigrants

Now that we know this, let’s look at ways that fractions can be used in sentences.


Imagine your friend gives you a massive plate of food, and you know that you won’t be able to eat it all. You want to ask him to only give you a portion of the original amount of food. You could say that you will only eat a fraction of that amount by saying the following:

나는 그것의 3분의 1만 먹을 건데
= (but…) I’m only going to eat one-third of that

Notice here that the fraction we created is actually the object of the sentence. Below are more examples where the fraction is the object of a sentence – where the verb acts on the fraction:

저는 그 영화의 3분의 1을 봤어요
= I watched one third of that movie

화가가 전체 그림의 4분의 1을 벽에 그렸어요
= The painter painted one quarter of the whole painting on the wall

저의 친구 연락처의 10분의 1을 잃어버렸어요
= I lost one-tenth of my friends’ contact information


Imagine you want to state that a certain fraction of something is made up of one thing in particular. For example, if you want to state that there are a lot of immigrants in Canada, you can indicate the amount of people specifically using a fraction. For example:

캐나다가 특이한 게 인구의 1/4은 이민자예요
= The unique thing about Canada is that the population is one-quarter immigrants

Notice here that the fraction we created is actually the subject of the sentence. Below are more examples where the fraction is the subject of a sentence:

우유의 성분의 1/5은 물이에요
= One fifth of the components/ingredients of milk is water

요즘에 학생의 3분의 1은 그 필통을 가지고 있어요
= These days, one third of students have that pencil case

아이폰이 일종의 컴퓨터인데 사람의 3분의 1이 핸드폰으로만 써요
= The iPhone is a (one) type of computer, but one third of people use it only as a phone

많은 사람들이 이 수업에 등록했는데 등록한 사람의 성함의 5분의 일은 목록에 없어요
= A lot of people registered for this class, but one fifth of the names of the people who registered aren’t on the list


If you want to compare something by a fraction of an order of magnitude, you can describe the fraction with the thing that is being compared with ~의. Following that construction, you can attach ~만큼 (which you learned about in Lesson 72) to the fraction. For example:

저는 제 친구 용돈의 1/2만큼 받아요
= I get half the amount of allowance as my friend

When saying “1/2,” it would be more natural to simply use the word “” meaning “half.” However, in this lesson I am focusing on fractions.

It would also be acceptable to change the style of the sentence and use one of the types of sentences that you have learned previously. For example:

제가 받는 용돈은 제 친구가 받는 용돈의 2분의 1이에요
= The allowance that I receive is half of that of what my friend receives

It would also be natural to simply create the opposite of this sentence and change the fraction to “two times” using 배. For example:

저의 친구는 저보다 용돈을 두 배 더 받아요
= My friend gets twice the (amount of) allowance that I get

Below are more examples:

우리 집은 강남에 있는 집의 4분의 1만큼 싸요
= Our house is a quarter cheaper than the houses in 강남

우리 집값은 강남에 있는 집값의 4분의 3이에요
= The price of our house is three-quarters that of the price of houses in Gangnam

This is math-related, and is confusing. Notice that I had to use different fractions to refer to the same thing in the two examples above. In the first example, I am using the adjective 싸다, which means I am indicating that our house is 25% cheaper than houses in Gangnam. In the second example, if I used the fraction “4분의 1” that would translate to “the price of our house is one quarter the price of houses in Gangnam” – meaning our house is 75% cheaper than houses in Gangnam. However, by using the fraction “4분의3” in the second example, I am indicating that it is 75% of the price, but 25% cheaper – which is the same meaning as the sentence above. Confusing, I know.

제가 외국 사람이라서 친구들이 낸 돈의 1/3만큼 냈어요
= Because I am a foreigner, I paid one third (of the amount of) the money that my friends paid

제가 외국 사람이라서 제가 낸 돈은 친구들이 낸 돈의 1/3이에요
= Because I am a foreigner, the amount (money) that I paid is one third the amount (money) of that of my friends


Korean people would usually not use a fraction when talking about distance. If referring to a distance in kilometers and the measurement was smaller than one kilometer, instead of using a fraction they would refer to it in meters. For example:

Half a kilometer = 500 미터 (“오백 미터”)

For distances between whole numbers of kilometers, they would use a decimal. For example:

1.5 kilometers = 1.5킬로미터 (“일 점 오 킬로미터”)

For example:

우리는 어제 가게까지 1.5킬로미터를 걸었어요
= We walked 1.5km to the store yesterday


That’s it for this lesson!

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