Comparative/Superlative Adjectives in Spanish Grammar

Introduction

Comparative and superlative adjectives (los grados del adjetivo) allow us to compare the qualities expressed by adjectives. In Spanish grammar, comparative adjectives express more or less of a certain quality, whilst superlative adjectives express a superior quality.

Learn about the different types of comparative and superlatives in Spanish grammar with Lingolia’s simple overview then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

Example

María es tan rápida como Carolina. Clara es más rápida que María. Clara es la más rápida. Clara es la corredora más rápida. Clara es rapidísima.

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Comparative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives allow us to compare two or more things. There are two constructions for forming comparatives: más/menos + adjective + que; or tan + adjective + como. The adjective ending agrees in number and gender with the noun it describes.

Example:
Clara es más rápida que María.Clara is faster than María.
superior comparison (comparativo de superioridad)
María es tan rápida como Carolina.María is as fast as Carolina.
equal comparison (comparativo de igualdad)
María es menos rápida que Clara.María is not as fast as Clara.
inferior comparison (comparativo de inferioridad)

Superlative Adjectives

Superlative adjectives show the highest level of a quality. In Spanish grammar, superlative adjectives can be relative or absolute.

The Relative Superlative

The relative superlative describes a person or thing who possesses a certain quality to a greater or lesser degree than another. Its formed using the definite article + más/menos + adjective. The adjective ending agrees in number and gender with the noun it describes.

Example:
Clara es la más rápida.Clara is the fastest.
Clara es la corredora más rápida.Clara is the fastest runner.
Carolina es la corredora más lenta.Carolina is the slowest runner.
Sofía es la menos rápida del grupo.Sofia is the least fast in the group.

The Absolute Superlative

The absolute superlative describes a noun at the highest or least degree without comparing it to any other noun. It is formed by adding -ísimo/-ísima/-ísimos/-ísimas to the word root of the adjective.

Example:
Clara es rapidísima. Clara is very/unbelievably/extremely fast.
rápida → rapidísima
Fue un examen facilísimo. It was a very easy exam.
fácil → facilísimo

Irregular Comparative and Superlative Forms

  • Some adjectives use a instead of que to form the comparative.
    Example:
    inferior asmaller than
    superior alarger than
    anterior abefore, earlier than …
    posterior aafter, later than …
  • There are certain spelling exceptions to note when forming the absolute superlative:
    positive absolute superlative
    largo larguísimo
    rico riquísimo
    fuerte fortísimo
    amable amabilísimo
    antiguo antiquísimo
    pobre paupérrimo
    joven jovencísimo
  • Some adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms:
    positive comparative superlative
    bueno mejor el mejor
    malo peor el peor
    poco menos -
    mucho más -
    grande mayor el mayor
    pequeño menor el menor
  • Some adjectives are absolute in meaning and, therefore, cannot be used as comparatives and superlatives: eterno, infinito, omnipotente, ilimitado, inmortal, único, muerto, difunto.