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Spanish Grammar Tip – Absolute Superlative

Spanish Grammar Tip

 

Los superlativos absolutos

After delving into how adjectives in their positive and comparative degrees are used, let’s look at how el grado superlativo (the superlative degree) works. In Spanish there are two types of superlatives: el superlativo relativo (the relative superlative) and el superlativo absoluto (the absolute superlative).

The latter expresses the adjective quality in its highest degree, above all other possible terms of comparison. It can be formed by simply adding the adverb muy (very) before the adjective.

Tu novia es muy guapa. → Your girlfriend is very pretty.

Other adverbs such as tan (so), sumamente (extremely) and bien (really) can also be employed to express the absolute superlative of adjectives, at times even simultaneously.

Su comentario fue tan sumamente inoportuno.  → His comment was terribly inappropriate.

The suffix -ísimo performs the same function too. It goes without saying that, once added to the adjective, the suffix carries the same ending of the noun it refers to, as they must agree in gender and number.

 

bajo (short) Masculine Feminine
Singular bajísimo bajísima
Plural bajísimos bajísimas

 

Esos rascacielos son altísimos. → Those skyscrapers are extremely tall.

La nueva película de Marvel es malísima. → The latest Marvel movie is very bad.

However, those adjectives terminating in -ble take -bílisimo in its absolute superlative form, whereas those adjectives whose root ends in -c or -g take a -u before the suffix -ísimo.

La huelga de hoy tiene un fin nobilísimo. → Today’s strike has a very noble purpose.

La tarta de queso de mi abuela está riquísima. → My grandma’s cheesecake is so tasty.

Mi hija tiene unas pestañas larguísimas. → My daughters’ eyelashes are extremely long.

Superlativo absoluto irregular

There are also a number of adjectives which present an irregular form of Spanish absolute superlative.

joven (young) jovencísimo
feliz (happy) felicísimo
simple (simple) simplísimo
sabio (wise) sapientísimo
fiel (loyal) fidelísimo
antiguo (old) antiquísimo
ardiente (burning) ardentísimo

Sufijo Irregular -érrimo

Similarly, a group of adjectives adopt the suffix -érrimo, as in their original Latin forms.

célebre (famous) celebérrimo
pobre (poor) paupérrimo
libre (free) libérrimo
mísero (miserable) misérrimo

 

Furthermore, those adjectives that prtesent an irregular comparative form also have one for their superlative degree, mainly used in high-register language, apart from the regular ones ending in -ísimo.

 

Positivo Comparativo Superlativo
bueno (good) mejor óptimo / buenísimo
malo (bad) peor pésimo / malísimo
grande (big) mayor máximo / grandísimo
pequeño (little) menor mínimo / pequeñísimo
alto (tall) superior supremo / altísimo
bajo (short) inferior ínfimo / bajísimo

 

In more informal language, adjectives can form the absolute superlative by means of prefixes such as extra-, super-, archi-, re- and requete-.

Es una escritora archiconocida. → She’an extemely well-known author.

Hizo su trabajo requetebién. → She did her job exceptionally well.

Superlativo Absoluto de los Adverbios

Lastly, it must be noted that the rules above can also be applied to adverbs in order to emphasise their meaning thus obtaining their absolute superlative degree.

 

cerca (nearby) cerquísima
lejos (far) lejísimos
pronto (soon) prontísimo
tarde (late) tardísimo

 

Mis suegros llegarán tardísimo esta noche. → My parents-in-law will arrive very late tonight.

He aparcado lejísimos de aquí. → I parked very far from here.

 


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