第320課: Rather: むしろ, かえって, ~ましだ

If you would rather not read this lesson, at least once you are finished reading it, you will have learned how to say that in Japanese.


The pattern (Xより)むしろ compares two situations to come to the conclusion that the second situation (Situation Y) is more ideal/fitting than the first situation (Situation X).

 接続 (X + よりむしろ + Y)
Noun + よりむしろ~
Verb 連体形 (affirmative/negative) + よりむしろ~
(Sentence Start) むしろ~

Depending on the surrounding structures, it may be more natural to translate (より)むしろ as “more so than” or something comparable. This, though, does not detract from its purpose of demonstrating a more ideal situation. 

What’s more, the particle より may be emphasized with various adverbial particles to add more nuance to the comparison between Situation X and Situation Y. 

  • よりは: The particle は’s functions of topicalizing Situation X highlights how it is not so much a desirable situation as Situation Y.
  • よりも: The particle も indicates that Situation Y is far more desirable than Situation X. 
  • よりか: The particle か adds uncertainty to the comparison between Situation X and Situation Y by making it seem Situation X might not be the best reference point to bolster Situation Y as being ideal. In casual speech, it may be contracted to よか.
  • よりかは: With the addition of は after か, Situation X isn’t necessarily so bad or perhaps not even a point to be had given how Situation Y is better. 

1. 図書館で勉強するより、むしろカフェのほうが集中できる。
More so than studying at a library, I can concentrate better at a café.  

2. 何もしないよりは、むしろ一日中働いていたほうがいい。
It’s better to work all day than doing nothing. 

3. コロナ禍前よりむしろ外食増えてる。
Rather, I’ve been eating out more than I was before COVID.

4. 寿司よりむしろこのお味噌汁を食べに来てる。

I come here to have the miso soup more so than the sushi. 

5. 焼肉はタレをたくさんつけてしょっぱいと感じるほどなので、寿司よりむしろ塩分量は多いと思います。
The yakiniku tastes super salty when you add a lot of glaze to it, and so I think it has more sodium more so than sushi. 

6. あの子はメイクもケバいよりかはむしろアイシャドウとかもかなり薄めにしてる。
That girl, even when it comes to her makeup, rather than having it be thick, she keeps her eyeshadow and everything on the light side. 

7. 地獄よりかむしろ天国でした!
It was heaven more so than it was hell!

8. 雨よかむしろ強風の方がヤバいんだよね。
Strong wind is way worse than rain, huh.  

9. アメリカよりもむしろカナダに滞在したいと思っています。
I would much rather stay in Canada than the US.

10. 僕はビールよりもむしろテキーラの方が好きだ。
I like tequila far more than I do beer.

11. 外車よりもむしろ日本製の車を買うんだ。
I buy Japanese-made cars far more than I do foreign cars.

12.  パーティーに行くよりむしろ家にいたい。
I’d rather stay inside than go to the party. 

13. むしろこちらのほうがいいと思います。
Rather, I believe that this would be better. 

14. 海岸へ行くよりむしろ遊園地へ行きたい。
I’d rather go to the amusement park rather than the beach.

Orthography Note: The adverb むしろ may seldom be spelled in Kanji as 寧ろ.


The pattern というよりむしろ is synonymous withよりむしろ, and as far as how they differs, the inclusion of という indicates that it can attach to a lot more things with the help of the citation particle と. When という is included, the overall phrase may be translated as, “more so/rather than saying…”

接続 (X + というよりむしろ + Y)
Noun + というよりむしろ~
Verb 終止形 +  というよりむしろ~
Adjective 終止形 + というよりむしろ
Adjectival Noun 終止形 (だ・である) + というよりむしろ
Final Particle 終助詞 (Ex. か) + というよりむしろ

Conjugation Note: The verb, adjective, or adjective noun may either be in the affirmative or negative depending on the situations being compared.

The emphatic forms of より mentioned above apply to this grammar point as well. Meaning, you may see というより rendered as というよりは, というよりも, or というよりかは. 

というよりは translates to “not so much as X than Y” and というよりも translates to “more so Y than X would ever be.” Using the particle か adds vagueness to X being the true object of comparison, whereas using the compound-particle かは allows Y to stand out even more as the ideal situation in light of a not so well-defined situation X. 

It is actually possible to take out むしろ in these structures without a change in meaning as its purpose is to emphasize just how much Situation Y is more fitting. For instance, in Ex. 15, むしろ is dropped so that another adverb can be used instead to describe Situation Y in a different light.  

15. 猫派か犬派かというよりも、まずアレルギーのため動物に触れあうことすらできない。

It’s not a matter of me being a cat person or a dog person. First of all, I can’t even interact with animals because I’m allergic to them. 

16. 可愛いというよりむしろ怖い。
It’s scary more so than cute. 

17. 彼女は歌手というよりもむしろ女優です。
She is an actress rather than a singer.

18. 歯の痛みというよりかは歯茎に違和感があったので受診することにした。
I decided to be seen by a doctor because my gums felt strange more so than feeling any sort of pain in my teeth. 

19. 映画を観に行くというよりかは映画館という空間が好きで、ひと月に5つの映画館に行ってるんですよ。
More so than going to see movies, per say, I like movie theatres for the spaces they are, and so I go to five of them in a month.

20. 彼はDVの加害者というよりも妻からのDVの被害者だったのではないかと思われる事実が色々出てきているのだ。
All sorts of facts have been surfacing which indicate that he might very well be the victim of domestic abuse from his wife far more than being the perpetrator of domestic abuse. 

21. ええ、あの子供は利口というか、いや、むしろ天才というべきだ。
Agreed, that kid is bright, no, a genius.

22. 好きじゃないというよりは(むしろ)好きになれないって感じかな?
More so than not liking (him), rather, I feel as if I can’t get myself to like (him), or something like that?

23. 実際に行動に移すかどうかはわからないというより、行動に移さない確率のほうがはるかに高い。
More so than not knowing whether (the person) is actually going to (put words) into action, the likelihood that (the person) will not take action is far higher. 


~くらい・ぐらいなら(むしろ)~ is most similar in meaning to ~よりもむしろ~, but its usage is very restricted in both what it can be used with syntactically and in nuance. Firstly, this expression can only follow nouns or verbs, and depending on which of these part of speech it follows, its interpretation is different.

With Verbs

When used with verbs (in the 連体形) in either the affirmative or the negative, the speaker is stating that if the subject is going to (not) do X, then that person ought to rather do Y. 

This usage is highly emotional in tone and is generally not appropriate in formal writing unless the writer is purposely sounding bombastic. The impression that the speaker gives is that Situation X is so annoying/unbearable that whether Situation Y even happens or not comes to question just because of how fed up the speaker is.

When this pattern is used, the sentence often ends in ~ほうがいい or ~ほうがましだ, with the latter pattern sounding far more exaggerated.  

24. 君を捨てるぐらいなら死んだ方がましだ。
I would rather die than abandon you.

25. 嫌々やるぐらいならはじめからやらないほうがいいよ。
 If you just going to complain while doing it, it’d be best that you just not do it from the get-go. 

26. セスってやつに日本語の文法なんか教えられるくらいなら、まじで死んだほうがましなんだよ。
If I’m gonna be taught Japanese grammar by that guy Seth, I’d seriously much rather die. 

27. 信じられない友達を持つくらいなら、むしろ一人もいないほうがいい。

If you’re going to have friends whom you can’t trust, it’d rather be best that you not have a single one.

28. 期日に遅れるくらいなら、徹夜して完成させた方がましだ。
I’d rather have it completed overnight than not make the deadline.

Nuance Note: Although doing an all-nighter isn’t unheard of, the implication of the speaker wording their statement this way suggests that as short tempered as they might sound, it is also just as unrealistic for that to actually happen. Meaning, the speaker would rather have Situation Y not happen at all. 

With Nouns

When ~くらい・ぐらいなら follows nouns – usually with counter expressions – くらい・ぐらい can be more literally interpretated as denoting an approximation. As such, “Noun + ~くらい・ぐらいなら(むしろ)” is akin to “if X is going to be that much, then that’s (rather)…” 

29. この品質で百ドルくらいならむしろ安いほうだと思わない?
If it’s $100 in this condition, then it’s rather on the cheap side, don’t you think? 

30. もし10億円くらいなら当たったらなんとかなりそうだろ?
If it really is going to be around a billion yen, then if you were to hit (that lottery), then you’d really be getting somewhere, right? 

Variation Note: Traditionally, ぐらい has been the preferred form when attached to both conjugatable and non-conjugatable parts of speech with exception to the adnominal forms of Kosoado (この, その, etc.) for which くらい had been the dominant form. Nowadays, no distinction is made between くらい and ぐらい and are completely interchangeable. 


The adverb かえって indicates that Situation Y is the opposite of what one expected, which in this case is Situation X. In comparisons in which Situation Y is being emphasized as being “rather…” more so than Situation X, it is interchangeable with the adverb むしろ showcased earlier. 

However, whenever Situation Y doesn’t go as planned in a way that is unpleasant to the speaker, むしろ cannot be used as it is most appropriate when the speaker favors Situation Y. That’s not to say that むしろ can’t be used with Situation Y statements that are in the negative. In such a situation, the inaction is what is favorable. 

Translation Note: かえって may translated as “on the contrary,” “instead,” “rather,” or even as “all the more.” 

Orthography Note: かえって may be spelled in Kanji as 却って or 反って. Although the adverb originates from the verb 返る, the two aforementioned Kanji are preferred to prevent it from being interpreted with a verbal meaning. 

31. 忙しい時のほうが【かえって・むしろ】捗る。
Rather, I make the most progress when I’m busy.

32. 儲けようとして【かえって 〇・むしろ X】損をした。
I tried to make a profit but lost money instead.

33. あの人に勧められたら、かえって 行く気がしなくなかった。
When I was offered (to go) by that person, I felt like not going all the more.

34. 人を束縛することは意味のないことで、無理強いするとかえって逃げられる。

Restraining people is meaningless, and when you coerce them (to do something), they run away from you on the contrary.

35. 誰にでも欠点はあってその欠点があるからこそかえって魅力的なものになったりするものだ。
Everyone has faults, but it is exactly those faults, that are all the more attractive. 


まし is an adjectival noun which describes that something is the least-worst situation (Situation Y), which we saw heavily used in ~ほうがましだ earlier. There is no need to have a preceding clause to use ~ほうがましだ. In fact, it can be used to mean “rather prefer Y” with a wind range of parts of speech.

Noun + のほうがましだ
Adjective 連体形 + ほうがましだ
Adjectival Noun 連体形 (な・の) + ほうがましだ
Verb in the Affirmative (Non-Past or ~た※) + ほうがましだ
Verb in the Negative (~ない) + ほうがましだ

※The use of ~た before ほうが is overwhelmingly favored over using the non-past form of the verb, but it would be mistaken to view this use of ~た as literally marking the past tense. Instead, it is being used to affirm the speaker’s feelings in much the same way it does in other expressions like 良かった. 

~ほうがましだ is very dramatic in tone and is ideal for when telling the listener just how awful their suggestion or some current circumstance is.

36. 本当に謝るつもりがないのなら謝らないほうがましだ。
If you really have no intent on apologizing, it’d be better if you didn’t apologize at all. 

37. あいつよりも俺のほうがまだましだ。
I’m still way better than that guy.

38. 誰かを見殺しにするくらいなら、一緒に死んだほうがずっとマシだ!
If you’re going to let others die without helping, we might as well just die together!

39. 不細工なほうがまし・・・
Being ugly is far better……

40. 戦って死ぬほうがましだ。
Battling and then dying (as such) would be far better.

In Conclusion    最後に聞こう・・・

Having studied the grammar points introduced in this lesson, you now know to express “rather” when comparing two different situations. 

In English, “rather” may also be synonymous with “fairly/pretty,” but that meaning is easily expressed with basic adverbs such as かなり or いっそう in Japanese and fall out of the scope of this lesson. 

Now, how exactly would you go about saying, “I would have rather not read this lesson?” In English, it is common to say “I’d rather not (do that).” If this were directly translated into Japanese, you might get むしろしないでおく, but in a basic context like that, 結構です or 遠慮しておきます would be sufficient most of the time.

On the contrary, when providing a contrast with Situation X of not having done it with Situation Y of having done it anyway, it is reasonable to use a pattern such as ~なければよかった in conjunction with かえって to emphasize the unwanted outcome. When the situation has already happened, though, むしろ does become unnatural as it is favored when Situation Y is more ideal.