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:
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:
Mi mochila es más grande que la mochila de mi amigo
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:
Mi portátil es más pequeño que el tuyo.
El rio es más ancho que el lago.
Mi vaso contiene menos cantidad de zumo de manzana que el tuyo.
Estoy más preparada que tú para el examen.
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:
Ella no es tan feliz como él.
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:
El niño no es tan grande como la niña.
La manzana no es tan dulce como la pera.
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 adjective||Spanish comparative|
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:
Ellos son los más inteligentes del equipo.
Ellas son las más rápidas del equipo olímpico de natación.
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.
Ellos son los mejores nadadores del equipo olímpico de natación.
Ellas son las mejores nadadoras del equipo olímpico de natación.
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:
Juan es el menor de todos los hermanos.
Marisol es la menor de todas las hermanas.
María es la menor de todos los hermanos.
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.
Soy la menos divertida.
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:
Alicia es la mayor de todos los primos.
Javier es el mayor de todos los primos.
¡Este es el mayor descuento que obtendrás!
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!
- 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!