Spanish Grammar: Comparisons, Superlatives, & More

Intro to Spanish Comparisons, Negation, and Superlatives

As you learn to speak Spanish, you’ll need to be able to put together a variety of phrases. Here, Spanish teacher Jason N. shows you how to describe nouns in relation to each other…

Spanish Comparisons

In English, as in every language, we compare people, places, and things regularly. Spanish comparisons aren’t too different, there are just new formulas to learn. The good news is they’re very basic and you can learn them for the long-run in a couple of hours!

Here’s the most important one:

Formula for Spanish Comparisons

Here are some examples:

– Obama es más alto que Clinton (Obama is taller than Clinton)
– Mi carro es más rápido que el carro de Juan (My car is faster than Juan’s)

Now it’s your turn to practice! (The answer key can be found at the bottom of the article)

1) Jim is smarter than Alex.
2) Alison is stronger than Brook.
3) The office at TakeLessons is nicer than the office I previously worked in.

Equal Comparisons

Sometimes one thing isn’t better or worse than the other. For that, we’re able to compare things that are the same. Here’s another important formula:

MO - Formula for Equal Spanish Comparisons

There are also endless combinations that can go in the blanks. For example:

– Obama es tan alto como Clinton (Obama is as tall as Clinton)
– Mi carro es tan rápido como el carro de Juan (My car is just as fast as Juan’s)

Negative Expressions in Spanish

It’s especially easy to make things negative in Spanish — just add a ‘no’ in front of whatever you’d like to negate.

Formula for Spanish Negations

For example:

– No es chistoso Daniel (Daniel isn’t funny)

Negation in Spanish can also be redundant and emphatic, in that sometimes it repeats itself. While double-negatives in English cancel themselves out logically, in Spanish double-negatives are frequently used to convey negation. Check out this example:

– No tengo nada (I have nothing)

The direct translation in English is “I don’t have nothing,” which sounds odd and would imply the speaker has something. In Spanish, however, this is correct and simply means you have nothing. Once you practice your Spanish some more, these nuances will become second nature to you.

Superlatives in Spanish

If you want to isolate one person, place, or thing as being the most something (a superlative), you just put the definite article (el, la, los or las) before the given phrase.

Formula for Spanish superlatives

For example:

– Esta mujer es la más guapa (This woman is the prettiest)
– Florida es el estado más hermoso de los Estados Unidos (Florida is the most beautiful state in the United States)

You may be surprised to realize that the word ‘most’ doesn’t exist in Spanish. There is also no way to add the superlative suffix ‘est’ at the end of words. It may seem odd that it just translates to ‘the more,’ but it works because using the definite article and context help readers and listeners understand what you mean.

Practice translating these sentences (again, answer key is at the end of the article!):

1) Jim is the smartest man alive.
2) Alison is the strongest woman alive.
3) The office at TakeLessons is the nicest office in the United States.

Bonus Words: Irregulars

Wait — there’s more! Here are other Spanish comparison words including confusing irregulars:

– Mayor vs. menor (older vs. younger)
– Alto vs. bajo/a (in Mexican Spanish it’s often ‘chaparro/a’)
– bueno (good) becomes mejor (better)
– malo (bad) becomes peor (worse)
– Viejo (old) becomes mayor (older)
– joven (young) becomes menor (younger)

Your Spanish tutor can help you better understand double- (and sometimes triple-) negatives in Spanish! My advice is to explore the language through movies, music, and books, and work with a good tutor. It’s also a good idea to make sure you know how to pronounce Spanish words before you start practicing them. Happy learning!

Answer Key

1) Jim es más inteligente que Alex.
2) Alison es más inteligente que Brook.
3) La oficina de TakeLessons es más bonita que la oficina en la que trabajaba.

1) Jim es el hombre más inteligente del mundo.
2) Alison es la mujer más fuerte del mundo.
3) La oficina TakeLessons es la oficina más bonita de los Estados Unidos.

JasonNPost Author: Jason N.
Jason N. tutors in English and Spanish in Athens, GA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, lived in Mexico for 3 years where he completed a Master’s degree in Counseling, and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. He is currently attending the University of Georgia. Learn more about Jason here!  


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