Need help reading a newspaper sentence about Covid masks

I’m reading this article about the government’s announcement about the rules regarding covid masks. I need help understanding this sentence:

「2歳以上の子どもがマスクをする場合は、正しくマスクをしているかどうかよりも、息が苦しくないか、吐いたり口の中に物が入っていたりしないかなどに十分気をつける必要があると言っています。」(the ones “saying” are the 政府.)

What I gather is that children above 2 years old should be careful while wearing masks and that one should make sure they don’t choke or vomit because of it? This sentence throws me off a lot. The part in bold is the most confusing one for me. How do you understand it?

Its not necessarily saying the 2+ year olds are the one that should be careful but yeah you got the general idea.


→ 正しく+マスクをしている+かどうか + よりも

->properly + wearing a mask + whether or not + rather than

=Rather than whether or not they are properly wearing their mask…


They said that when children older than 2 years old wear masks, more important than checking if the mask is worn correctly is ensuring that it is not painful to breathe, that they won’t vomit, and that there aren’t small things in their mouths.

The bolded part is “[more important than] checking if the mask is worn correctly is…”

正しくマスクをしている – wearing masking correctly
かどうか – binary confirmation (are they or are they not wearing the mask correctly)
より – particle indicating that what comes after surpasses the preceding statement in some way. In this case, the following statements are described by “十分気をつける必要がある” – that enough care needs to be paid attention to these situations (thus “more important than” when related to よりも).


It might also help to know that より and よりも are used in comparative structures, like

Aより(も)Bが〜 = ‘more so than A, B is ~’

The classic structure that appears in textbooks is Aより(も)Bのほうが〜, which means the same thing.

より actually has quite a few meanings, one of them being this comparative meaning, but more generally, it just indicates a basis of sorts, and can be something like ‘from’. (For example, in a letter or message, おねえちゃんより is a way of saying ‘from Onee-chan’, ‘Onee-chan’ being a possible pet name for an older sister in this case.)


That does make a lot more sense! The かどうか was the main thing that threw me off, it seems. Embedded questions are difficult. This does make the sentence way more clear. Thank you all!

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Just to be clear, while the explanations above (saying it’s essentially ‘whether or not’) are fine, the sentence 〜かどうか is literally closer to ‘is it ~? [Or] how?’ i.e. ‘whether ~ or [other]wise’ = ‘whether ~ or [some other] how’. Thinking like this might not be useful for understanding this structure alone, and I’m sorry if it’s confusing initially, but I think understanding what each word means and trying to see how that fits the actual meaning (as opposed to what the literal translations seem to say in English if we put them together without further thought) will be helpful later on (e.g. どうか can also be used at the beginning of a sentence in order to increase the politeness of a request, but that makes sense if you can see it as ‘how [uncertainty]’ = somehow = please, somehow, do do this/be safe/consider our request etc.).


To me, the closest English idiom to this very common form is “(whether) or not”.

〜好きかどうか • whether or not (they) like (whatever)

〜行けるかどうか • whether or not (they) can go

Aaaaaand I scroll up to read the rest of the thread and realize you were clarifying further and this has already been explained. :slight_smile:

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