Comparative Constructions in Spanish: More/Less, Older/Younger etc.

A very good sentence construction in Spanish to learn early on is the comparative statement.  Here you can refer to something or someone in reference to something (one) else – whether is it a comparison on equal or non-equal.  As you will see below, the constructions are actually quite easy, and soon you will be comparing things left and right in Spanish!

Comparisons of Equality

 Tan + adjective (or adverb) + comoas (equal)… as

For example:

  • Jorge es tan fuerte como tú.Jorge is as strong as you.
  • Ellos están tan aburridos como yo.They are as boring as I.
  • Ella baila tan bonito como su hermana.She dances as well as her sister.

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Tanto (tanta, tantos, tantas) + noun + comoas much (as many) … as

For example:

  • Tengo tanto dinero como tú.I have as much money as you.
  • Él lee tantos libros como su amigo.He reads as many books as his friend.
  • Tú haces tantas tareas como los otros estudiantes. You do as much homework as the other students.
  • Los comerciantes venden tanta verdura como les es posible.Merchants sell as much vegetables as they can.

As you may have noticed, “tanto (tanta, tantos, tantas)” can be singular, plural, masculine and feminine according to the noun.

Tanto (tanta, tantos, tantas) + comoas much (as many) … as

Some more examples:

  • ¿Cuántas manzanas comió él? Comió tantas como Juan.How many apples did he eat? He ate as many as Juan.
  • Ella no hace tanto como yo en la casa.She does not as much as me at home.
  • ¿Cuánta experiencia tiene esa maestra? Ella tiene tanta como las otras.How much experience does this teacher have? She has as much as the others.

Comparisons of Inequality

Adjectives are compared as follows: positive, comparative, superlative.

For example:

  • Positive = tall alto (alta, altos, altas)
  • Comparative = taller más (menos) alto (alta, altos, altas)
  • Superlative = the tallestel (la, los, las) …. más (menos) alto (alta, altos, altas)

For example:

  • María es alta.María is tall.
  • María es más (menos) alta que su hermana.María is more (less) taller than her sister.
  • María es la más (menos) alta de la clase.María is the tallest (least tall) in the class.

NOTE:

Generally, than is equivalent to que.

  • Juan es más cómico que José.Juan is funnier than José.

When “than” precedes a number, it is expressed by de, except when the sentences is negative.

  • Él gastó más de diez dólares.He spent more tan ten dollars.
  • Cuesta menos de treinta dólares.It cost less than thirty dollars.

 

In the superlative, the noun stands between the article (el, la, los, las) and the adjective.

  • Él es el profesor más popular.He is the most popular teacher.
  • Es la revista menos interesante.It’s the least interesting magazine.

After a superlative, de means in.

  • Él es el alumno más inteligente de la clase.He is the most intelligent student in the class.

 

Adverbs are also compared as follows: positive, comparative, superlative.

For example:

Positive = lentamenteslowly

Comparative = más (menos) lentamentemore (less) slowly / slower

Superlative = más (menos) lentamentemore (less) slowly than

For example:

  • Ella camina lentamente.She walks slowly.
  • Gabriel estudia más diligentemente que antes.Gabriel studied more diligently than before

NOTE: the superlative of adverbs is not distinguished from the comparative.

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Irregular Comparatives

Positive                                 

Bueno, -a, – os, -asgood

Malo, -a, -os, -as bad

Grande, grandeslarge (great)

Pequeño, -a, -os, -assmall

Comparative            

Mejor, mejores – better      

Peor, peoresworse

Mayor, mayorsgreater, older

Menor, menoreslesser, younger

 

Superlative

El/la mejor; los/las mejoresthe best

El/la peor; los/las peoresthe worst

El/la mayor; los/las mayorsgreatest, oldest

El/la menor; los/las menoresleast, youngest

NOTEMejor and peor generally precede the nouns they modify.

For example:

  • El mejor libro.The best book.
  • La peor película.The worst film.

  

Mayor and menor usually follow the nouns they modify.

For example:

  • El hijo mayor.The oldest son.
  • Mi hermana menor.My youngest sister.

The regular and irregular comparative forms of grande and pequeño have different meanings. Más grande and más pequeño compare differences in size or height (physical meaning); mayor and menor compare differences in age or status (figurative meaning).

For example:

  • El hijo más pequeño.The smaller (smallest) son.
  • El hijo menor.The younger (youngest) son.
  • De mayor (menor) importancia.of greater (lesser) importance.

The absolute superlative

To express an absolute superlative (when no comparison is involved), -ísimo, -ísima, -ísimos, -ísimas is often added to the adjective. The meaning is the same as muy + adjective.

For example:

  • un libro muy popular.a very popular book.
  • un libro popularísimo.a very popular book.
  • una casa muy grande.an extremely large house.
  • una casa grandísima.an extremely large house.

NOTE:

Adjectives ending in a vowel drop their vowel before adding –ísimo.

For example: mucho = muchísimo = very much.

  • Juan quiere muchísimo a su novia.Juan loves his girlfriend very much.

Before adding –ísimo, adjectives ending in co change to qu; those ending in go change gu; and those ending in z change to c.

For example:

  • rico = riquísimovery rich
  • largo = laguísimovery long
  • feliz = felicísimovery happy

photo credit: Harpersbizarre via photopin

photo credit: drakegoodman via photopin

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