Making Comparisons in Latin Using “Quam"
When comparing two persons or objects, it is often necessary to indicate the second person or object being compared. In the way that English uses “than," Latin uses “quam" to make similar comparison more clear. Unfortunately, many Latin students confuse the relative conjunction “quam" with the relative pronoun “quam" which is the feminine accusative singular form of “qui, quae, quod." To make things worse, these two Latin words have the same form, spelling, and pronunciation. When encountering the word “quam" in Latin, students should look for a nearby comparative adjective to distinguish when “quam" is a relative pronoun and when “quam" is a used as a conjunction to help with the comparison of two persons or objects.
To form a comparison between two persons or objects, you simply place the second person or object after “quam." For example:
Caesar est longior quam ille vir. (Caesar is taller than that man.)
Haec femina erat magis idonea quam illa femina. (This woman was more suitable than that woman.)
Notice that the second person being compared in each example matches the subject of the sentence. In these examples, both persons being compared are in the nominative case because it is the subject of the sentence being compared. Notice, also, that in the second sentence, the comparative adjective agrees with the subject it modifies in case, number, and gender. Luckily, this is nothing new to the Latin student by the time he/she is introduced to comparative adjectives using"quam."