Nattō -wo taberu kurai-nara, nani-mo tabenai hō -ga mashi-da. (I’d rather eat nothing than eat nattō.)

Situation 1: Mr. Sere is having dinner at his girlfriend’s house.

ゆり: ねえ、納豆、食べてみない? 体にいいのよ。

セレ: いやだよ。納豆を食べるくらいなら、何も食べないほうがましだ。

Yuri: Nē, nattō, tabete-minai? Karada-ni ii-no-yo.

Sere: Iya-da-yo. Nattō-wo taberu kurai-nara, nani-mo tabenai hō-ga mashi-da.

Yuri: Hey, why don’t you eat nattō (fermented sticky soybeans)? It’s good for your health.

Sere: I hate it. I’d rather eat nothing than eat nattō.

Today, we will introduce two expressions: XくらいならY and XくらいY はない/いない, where くらい shows the degree of something. X(verb in dictionary form)くらいならY(phrase) means that someone would rather do Y than X, and shows that the speaker does not like to do X or thinks that X is undesirable. XくらいならY is a exaggerated subjective expression, and Y is usually an extreme example such as 死(し)んだほうがいい (would rather die) or 何(なに)もしないほうがましだ (would rather do nothing). Example: 込(こ)んでいるところに遊(あそ)びに行(い)くくらいなら、うちで寝(ね)ていたほうがいい。 (I’d rather sleep in my house than go on holiday to a crowded place.) The end of the Y phrase often contains an expression such as ほうがいい (is better than) or ほうがましだ (would rather than). Example: あんな人(ひと)と付(つ)き合(あ)うくらいなら、一人(ひとり)でいるほうがましだ。(I’d rather be alone than to go out with that person.)

Situation 2: Mr. and Mrs. Shiba are drinking beer in their house on the weekend.

夫: あー、今週も終わったなあ。

妻: うん。週末に飲むビールくらいおいしいものはないね。

Otto: Aa, konshū-mo owatta-nā.

Tsuma: Un. Shū matsu-ni nomu bīru kurai oishii mono-wa nai-ne.

Husband: Ah, the week is over.

Wife: There is nothing as good as beer on the weekend.

XくらいYはない/いない expresses that there is nothing/no one as Y as X, and it can be restated as “X is the most Y.” It is not used for an objective fact such as 富士山(ふじさん)くらい高い山はない。 (There isn’t as high a mountain as Mt. Fuji.) Examples: 本田(ほんだ)さんくらいよくしゃべる人(ひと)はいない。(There is nobody as talkative as Mr. Honda.) 朝(あさ)の満員電車(まんいんでんしゃ)ぐらい大変(たいへん)なものはない。 (There is nothing as difficult as crowded trains in the morning.)

Bonus Dialogue: Ms. Gray, Mr. Sere and Ms. Tamachi are gossiping about their colleague, Mr. Mita.

グレイ: 三田(みた)さん、この前(まえ)のパーティーでもいろんな女(おんな)の人(ひと)と楽(たの)しそうにしゃべっていたのよ。

セレ: 三田くんくらい調子(ちょうし)のいいやつはいないなあ。ああいう男(おとこ)といっしょになったら、毎日(まいにち)楽(たの)しいんじゃない?

田町: やだ! 三田さんと結婚(けっこん)するくらいなら、一生(いっしょう)独身(どくしん)のほうがまし。

グレイ: 三田さんが聞(き)いたら、がっかりするかも。

セレ: まあ、三田くんは田町さんのタイプじゃないね。でも、三田くんくらい立(た)ち直(なお)りの早(はや)いやつはいないから、聞いたとしてもだいじょうぶだよ。

グレイ: そうね。よくふられるけど、またすぐに元気(げんき)になるもの。そういうところは見習(みなら)わなくちゃ。

セレ: うん、このきびしい時代(じだい)、どうしたらすぐに立ち直って、チャレンジする精神を持ちつづけられるのか、こんど教(おし)えてもらおう。

グレイ: 私(わたし)も知りたい。

田町: 私はぜったい行(い)かないから。三田さんにそんなことを教えてもらうくらいなら、うちで寝(ね)ている!

Gray: Mr. Mita was enjoying talking with lots of women at the last party.

Sere: There is no one who is as happy when they’re speaking as Mita. Whoever marries him would have more fun every day.

Tamachi: No way! I’d rather stay single my whole life than marry him.

Gray: If he heard that, he’d probably be disappointed.

Sere: Well, Mita is not your type, Ms. Tamachi. But, there is nobody who gets over things as quickly as him. So, he wouldn’t care even if he heard what you said.

Gray: That’s true. He is often rejected by girls, but he rebounds quickly. We should try to think like he does.

Sere: Yeah, How does he keep up that fighting spirit and rebounding so quickly in difficult times like these? I want him to tell us his secret someday.

Gray: Me too.

Tamachi: There is no way I would go. I’d rather fall asleep than listen to him talking!

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