Beyond Comparison: Spanish Comparatives and Superlatives
We’ve learned lots of Spanish adjectives within the past few weeks, let’s finally learn how to use them to compare things! That’s right, today I’m going to tell you about the Spanish degrees of comparison!
Degrees of Comparison in Spanish
First of all, let’s brush up on the degrees of comparison in general. We know that there is the positive, the comparative, and the superlative degree, and they help us either state the equality, or compare the qualities, or proclaim the superiority or inferiority.
Comparative Degree in Spanish
This table pretty much explains everything, but I will surely give my comments to make the rules crystal clear!
To say that “my milkshake is better than yours” or “you gotta be wiser” in Spanish, you need to rely on the structure “más que” (more than). For example,
- El verano es más cálido que el invierno. – Summer is warmer than winter.
- Una sandía es más grande que una manzana. – A watermelon is bigger than an apple.
- La abeja es más trabajadora que el perezoso. – The bee is more hard-working than the sloth.
Please note that the gender of the adjective should match the gender of the first noun in the comparison.
If you want to state that an object is less something than another object, use the formula “menos + adj + que”:
- La primavera es menos cálida que el verano. – Sping is less warm than summer.
- Los rábanos son menos grandes que las calabazas. – Radishes are less big than pumpkins.
- Un escualo es menos simpático que un perro. – A shark is less friendly than a dog.
Finally, if you want to compare two things that seem to be equal, use the structure “tan + adj + como” (as + adj + as)
- Jose es tan inteligente como su hermana. – Jose is as intelligent as his sister.
- El otoño es tan guapo como la primavera. – Autumn is as beautiful as spring.
- Melónes son tan gustosos como sandías. – Melons are as tasty as watermelons.
The same structure works perfectly fine in situations where you need to negate the alikeness, you just need to add “no” before the verb:
- La cebolla no es tan dulce como la cereza. – Onions are not as sweet as cherries.
- Los caracoles no son tan divertidos como los papagayos. – Slugs are not as funny as parrots.
- Clara no es tan fuerte como su hermano. – Clara is not as strong as her brother.
Let’s pass on to the superlatives.
Superlative Degree in Spanish
When you can’t but state that something is the fastest, the biggest, the funniest, etc., you need to use the structure “el/la más + adj”. You can go even further and say of whom or what this something is the best by adding “de + noun”. For example,
- Carlos es el más inteligente de su escuela. – Carlos is the cleverest in his school.
- Nadia es la más cariñosa de las hermanas. – Nadia is the most affectionate of the sisters.
Sometimes, you can insert the noun between the article and the adjective:
- La ballena azul es el animal más grande de la Tierra. – The blue whale is the biggest animal on Earth.
There is an alternative superlative degree formula that does not have the element “most”, but surely states that something has the ultimate superiority. To use it, you need to add the suffix “-ísimo/a” to the adjective that expresses the superior quality.
- ¡Tu nieta es bellísima, mi amiga! – Your granddaughter is gorgeous, my friend!
- ¡Ese durazno es jugosísimo! – This peach is exceptionally juicy!
Some of the most frequently used comparison adjectives do not conform to the rules above. They use a different root to build comparative and superlative forms. These adjectives are:
- bueno/a – good
- malo/a – bad
- joven - young
- viejo/a - old
The pictures below will help you memorize the degrees of comparison for the exceptions:
- bueno/a – mejor que – el/la mejor/a
- malo/a – peor que – el/la peor
- joven – menor que – el/la menor
- viejo/a – mayor que – el/la mayor
And now let’s see if you have already memorized the simple rules and can use Spanish comparatives and superlatives like a pro!