Using adverbs for comparative


Hi guys,

I’ve come across this sentence in an e-mail of my Japanese teacher (context: in a few weeks wintertime starts in Germany, which means clocks are set back one hour):
"1じかん ながく ねることが できます。"
What I think this should mean translated: “You can sleep one hour longer.”
(Word by word this would rather be something like “You can sleep one hour long”.)

So far, I’ve only used sentences with ”「…」は「…」より「adjective」です。” for the use of the comparative.
I’ve found absolutely no information online about “time interval + adverb” for this kind of construction. Does anyone know anything about this type of grammar?

Thanks for your answers in advance!


Well your word by word translation isn’t a literal translation either.

I think you’re just worrying too much about the English translation here. If it’s literally “1 Hour long sleep able to do” then the only logical translation of it into normal English is “Able to sleep one hour longer.” By itself 一時間長く寝る is just “One hour long sleep”. So fundamentally it is ことができる which you’re not parsing properly.

It’s the same here: 十センチ高く生える = Grow ten Centimeters. 十センチ高く生えることができる = Can grow ten centimeters more.


Thank you for your answer ^^

With “十センチ高く生える” it’s much clearer to me you grow ten centimeters more, and not grow to be ten centimeters in total.

Even when you talk to someone in English and say “I can grow ten centimeters”, it’s clear you mean ten centimeters more (and not in total).

What still confuses me is that why
一時間長く寝る “One hour long sleep” + ことができる “able to do”
= “One hour longer able to sleep”, and not "one hour long (in total) able to sleep"
Would “一時間寝ることができる” then be “One hour able to sleep (in total)”?


Maybe I’m stating the obvious here… but, if your Japanese teacher uses a construction you don’t understand, wouldn’t the person to ask be your Japanese teacher?


Yes with no extra information there, it’s “I can sleep for one hour.”

It’s also important to understand that it’s an adverb being used here which tend to express degrees like this. It can’t be “long sleep” as that’s an adjective and a noun.


@Leebo: You’re right, I’ll ask him right away when I see him for the first time next week. I was just unsure if he would get my point, as comparative is something that’s so totally different in Japanese and English/German.

@Syphus: I guess I get what you mean.
I asked because I couldn’t find any information on this neither anywhere online nor in any of my textbooks why this expresses a type of degree, which would be translated to comparative in English. I’ve only come across the use of より and もっと to express this so far, so this felt kind of unnatural to me.