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Learning Spanish: Making the Most of Comparatives and Superlatives

written by: Curt Smothers • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 3/2/2012

We use comparisons in English to show which of two things has a lesser, equal, or greater degree of quality. The highest or lowest degrees are expressed using the superlative. The following article shows how comparatives and superlatives are formed in Spanish.

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    More or Less -- Comparisons of Inequality

    To make comparisons of inequality, Spanish uses the adverbs más or menos (more or less) in combination with the adverb que (than). With adjectives, adverbs, and nouns the construction is más (or menos) + [adjective/adverb/noun] + que. With verbs, the form is verb + más/menos que. Note the following examples:

    Adjective: Este hotel es más elegante que el otro. This hotel is more elegant than the other.

    Adverb: El metro se mueve menos rápidamente que el carro. The subway moves slower than the car.

    Noun: Tienes mas dinero que yo. You have more money than I do.

    Verb: Mi hermano viaje menos que yo. My brother travels less than I do.

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    The Same As -- Comparisons of Equality

    To make comparisons of equality, Spanish uses the following constructions:

    1. tan + [adjective/adverb] + como

    Adjective: Mi casa es tan grande como la de mi hermano. My house is as big as my brother's.

    Adverb: Mi perro caza tan bien como el tuyo. My dog hunts as well as yours.

    2. [verb] + tanto como

    Mi amiga Cecelia viajaba tanto como yo. My friend Cecelia used to travel as much as I did.

    3. tanto/a(s) + [Singular/plural noun] + como

    Cunado viajo a la ciudad, tengo tantas maletas como. When I travel to the city, I have as many suitcases as you.

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    The Best or the Worst -- Superlatives

    To form the superlative in Spanish, use the following construction:

    el/la/los/las + noun + más/menos + adjective + de (The noun preceded by the definite article, followed by más/menos the adjective and de, which is the equivalent of in or of).

    Note the examples below:

    Ésta es la playa más bonita de California. This is the prettiest beach in California.

    Es el hotel menos caro de la ciudad. It is the least expensive hotel in the city.

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    Irregular Comparatives and Superlatives

    In English we say "good, better, best" and "bad, worse, worst." Spanish also has a number of adjectives that have irregular comparative and superlative forms: bueno, malo, grande, pequeño, joven, viejo. Click on the image below to see a chart of these adjectives.

    Irregular comparative and superlatives 

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    Notes of Irregular Adjectives

    1. Use the regular comparative and superlative forms of bueno or malo when referring to a person's character. Examples:

    Jorge es más bueno con los estudiantes que Juan. (Jorge is better with students than Juan.)

    2. Use the regular comparative and superlative forms of grande and pequeño when referring to size (not age or quality).

    Ése es más pequeño que éste. That one is smaller than this one.

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    Read more online about comparing Spanish adjectives

    Go to these web sites for more information:

    • About.com:Spanish Language - Comparisons of Inequality: http://spanish.about.com/od/sentencestructure/a/inequality.htm
    • Spanish-Kit Spanish Learning Tools - Comparison: http://www.spanish-kit.net/grammar/370.html
    • 1-2-3 TeachMe.com - Comparative and Superlative Adjectives: http://www.123teachme.com/learn_spanish/adjetivos_comparativos_y_superlativos_3

    For a comparison of English adjectives, please refer to: