Grammar Tip – Spanish Comparatives
Spanish Comparatives – Los comparativos
Degrees of adjectives allow comparisons between the qualities of objects, people or even actions. Same as it happens in English, in Spanish there are three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative and superlative.
Whilst the positive degree of the adjective represents its basic form which expresses a neutral quality, el grado comparativo (the comparative degree) allows to establish comparisons between two or more entities, or groups of them, hence providing a more detailed description that helps to better differentiate between them.
We generally use the verb ser (to be) to draw comparisons as we often compare traits or attributes. As stated above, however, actions can also be compared using any other verb.
When comparing two entities, they may be the same or not. If they are equal, we use el comparativo de igualdad (comparative of equality). Depending on what is being compared, we follow one of the structures below.
1st entity + verb + IGUAL DE + adjective/adverb + QUE + 2nd entity
- Mi casa es igual de grande que la tuya. → My house is as big as yours.
- Marta es igual de divertida que Rosario. → Marta is as funny as Rosario.
1st entity + verb + TAN + adjective/adverb + COMO + 2nd entity
- Mi casa es tan grande como la tuya. → My house is as big as yours.
- Marta es tan divertida como Rosario. → Marta is as funny as Rosario.
(1st entity +) verb + TANTO COMO + 2nd entity
- Luis pesa tanto como tú. → Luis weights as much as you.
(1st entity +) verb + TANTO + noun + COMO + 2nd entity
- Necesito tanto café como tú para despertarme. → I need as much coffee as you to wake up.
In this last instance, tanto changes in gender and number (i.e. tanto, tanta, tantos, tantas) in agreement with the noun that it refers to.
On the other hand, if the entities are different, el comparativo de superioridad (comparative of superiority) or el comparativo de inferioridad (comparative of inferiority) is employed.
1st entity + verb + MÁS + noun/adjective/adverb + QUE + 2nd entity
- Ronaldo ha marcado más goles que Messi. → Ronaldo has scored more goals than Messi.
- El gato corre más rápido que el perro. → The cat runs faster than the dog.
1st entity + verb + MENOS + noun/adjective/adverb + QUE + 2nd entity
- Tengo menos dinero que tú. → I’ve got less money than you.
- La Torre de Pisa es menos alta que la Torre Eiffel. → The Tower of Pisa is less tall than the Eiffel Tower.
However, when más/menos is followed by a number in an affirmative sentence que is replaced by de.
- Habla más de cinco idiomas. → She speaks more than five languages.
- Cuesta menos de diez euros. → It costs less than ten euros.
Finally, there is a group of adjectives that have an irregular form of comparativo de superioridad in addition to the regular one with más.
|GRADO POSITIVO||GRADO COMPARATIVO DE SUPERIORIDAD|
|bueno (good)||mejor (better)|
|malo (bad)||peor (worse)|
|poco (a little)||menos (less)|
|mucho (a lot)||más (more)|
|grande (big)||mayor (bigger/large/older)|
|pequeño (little)||menor (smaller/fewer/lower)|