Here’s How To Use Comparatives And Superlatives In Spanish

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    Written byJada Lòpez
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Here’s How To Use Comparatives And Superlatives In Spanish

We use comparatives and superlatives a lot in English, and as you’ll see, the same is true for the Spanish language.

If you’re learning Spanish as a beginner you’ll need to know what comparatives and superlatives are and how you should use them.

Good news: it’s not that hard.

This guide will clarify all you need to know about Spanish comparatives and superlatives and add to what you’ve learned in your Spanish course.

What are comparatives?

Comparatives are a specific type of Spanish adjective that enables us to make comparisons with ease.

Some examples of comparatives in English are:

  • Taller
  • Smaller
  • Larger
  • Heavier

But what would these be in Spanish?

Here’s how they translate:

  • Más alto
  • Más pequeño
  • Más grande
  • Más pesado

Now, let’s continue learning about them in more detail.

Affirmative comparatives in Spanish: What are they and how should you use them?

When we make comparisons in Spanish, there are two types to be aware of.

The first type is the affirmative comparison, which you might label “positive”. 

For example, if you wanted to say that your backpack is bigger than your friend’s, you would use an affirmative statement that contains a comparative phrase and say:

Listen to audio

Mi mochila es más grande que la mochila de mi amigo

My backpack is bigger than my friend’s backpack

Looking at the sentence above, there’s a particular formula that you can use for the Spanish language to make comparisons.

The formulas you’ll need to make affirmative comparisons are:

Más + adjective + que

Menos + adjective + que

Here are a few other examples of the above affirmative comparative formulas being used in a Spanish sentence:

Listen to audio

Mi portátil es más pequeño que el tuyo.

My laptop is smaller than yours.
Listen to audio

El rio es más ancho que el lago.

The river is wider than the lake.
Listen to audio

Mi vaso contiene menos cantidad de zumo de manzana que el tuyo.

My glass contains a smaller quantity of apple juice than yours.
Listen to audio

Estoy más preparada que tú para el examen.

I’m more prepared for the exam than you are.

Negative comparisons in Spanish: What are they and how should you use them?

Negative comparisons in Spanish contain the word no in the sentence.

The English equivalent to making negative comparisons is:

Listen to audio

Ella no es tan feliz como él.

She’s not as happy as he is.

There is another formula that applies to the above sentence that we can use to make comparisons in Spanish.

Here’s the formula you’re going to need:

No + Verb + Tan + Adjective + Como

This formula is similar to the English sentence structure above, except that the verb comes after the word ‘no’ in the Spanish example. 

Now have a quick look at some examples of this formula being used in other sentences:

Listen to audio

El niño no es tan grande como la niña.

The boy is not as big as the girl.
Listen to audio

La manzana no es tan dulce como la pera.

The apple is not as sweet as the pear.

What are some irregular comparative adjectives in Spanish?

Be aware that there are some irregular comparative adjectives in Spanish to remember.

The table below contains three commonly used irregular Spanish comparative adjectives:

Spanish adjectiveSpanish comparative
BuenoMejor
MaloPeor
ViejoMayor
JovenMenor

Spanish superlatives: What are they and how should you use them?

A Spanish superlative is used to compare between several (upwards of two) items, people or objects.

You’ll know that in English we form superlatives by adding the suffix -est to the end of an adjective. 

For instance, “slow” becomes “slowest”.

But how would we make a Spanish superlative, and how do we use them?

To make a Spanish superlative sentence, use the following formula:

La/el/las/los + más/menos + adjective

Let’s use this formula in some examples to clarify how it’s used:

Listen to audio

Ellos son los más inteligentes del equipo.

They are the smartest on the team.
Listen to audio

Ellas son las más rápidas del equipo olímpico de natación.

They are the fastest on the Olympic swimming team.

Spanish superlatives and irregular adjectives: How should you use them?

In some cases, you might need to use an irregular Spanish adjective in its superlative form.

If you wanted to say “She is the best swimmer on the Olympic swimming team”, you would have to use the irregular Spanish superlative “mejor” as we don’t say “más bueno” or “mas malo”.

Here’s how the sentence would look in Spanish:

Ella es la mejor nadadora del equipo olímpico de natación.

Note the difference between comparatives and superlatives.

In this case, we must add the article la to the sentence, before the adjective. And if you were describing a male swimmer, a group of male swimmers, or a group of female swimmers, you’d use el, los or las respectively.

For example:

Listen to audio

Ellos son los mejores nadadores del equipo olímpico de natación.

They are the best male swimmers in the Olympic swimming team.
Listen to audio

Ellas son las mejores nadadoras del equipo olímpico de natación.

They are the best female swimmers in the Olympic swimming team

Did you also notice the pluralization rules and gender agreement for these superlative sentences?

If you’re talking about a group of male swimmers, you should use los mejores. If you’re talking about a group of female swimmers, you should use las mejores.

How should you use menor and major as superlatives in Spanish?

This rule applies to other Spanish adjectives too.

Take the superlative word joven.

To use it as a superlative, you can use the irregular superlative comparative phrase menor, coupled with the article el or la.

Using menor to compare between ages and other things

Here are some examples of how to use menor to state that someone is the youngest of an entire group:

Listen to audio

Juan es el menor de todos los hermanos.

Juan is the youngest of all the brothers.
Listen to audio

Marisol es la menor de todas las hermanas.

Marisol is the youngest of all the sisters.
Listen to audio

María es la menor de todos los hermanos.

María is the youngest of all the siblings.

Keep in mind that menor can mean either “youngest” in Spanish or can mean “the least”.

It means “the least” in particular contexts, and you can use it in the phrase el/la más menor.

For instance:

Listen to audio

Soy la menos divertida.

I’m the least amused.

Using mayor to compare between ages and other things

You can also use the word mayor to describe either the “oldest” person of a group or “the biggest” of something.

It means “the biggest” in particular contexts and you can use it as part of the phrase el/la más mayor.

Check out the following examples:

Listen to audio

Alicia es la mayor de todos los primos.

Alicia is the oldest of all the cousins.
Listen to audio

Javier es el mayor de todos los primos.

Javier is the oldest of all the cousins.
Listen to audio

¡Este es el mayor descuento que obtendrás!

This is the biggest discount you’ll get!

Special Spanish superlatives: What are they and how should you use them?

Some interesting and unique Spanish superlatives don’t have precise meanings in the English language.

This group of special Spanish superlatives are formed by adding the suffix -ísimo to an adjective.

You’ll hear them frequently in Spain!

For example:

  • Grande becomes grandísimo meaning “the supreme best”
  • Bueno becomes buenísimo meaning “the supreme ‘goodest’” 
  • Malo becomes malísimo meaning “the extreme ‘worstest’”
  • Rico becomes riquísimo meaning “the supreme tastiest”

Practice using Spanish comparatives and superlatives to become an expert

Learning Spanish comparatives and superlatives is pretty straightforward.

Once you grasp their meanings, learning the formulas will help you construct sentences with them.

Reinforce your knowledge with fill-in-the-blank grammatical exercises featuring Spanish comparatives and superlatives.

Finally, listen to Spanish podcasts or audios of native speakers using comparatives and superlatives in different contexts.


Are there any other tips you’d like to add related to learning Spanish comparatives and superlatives?

Write your advice in the comments section just below!

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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