The Easy Way to Make Comparisons in Spanish
Have you ever tried to decide where to go on vacations? Or which car you should buy? I know you have, because we all are presented with choices all the time and, in order to make the best choice, we have to compare and choose.
Learning to make comparisons in Spanish is important because, even if you were trying to avoid comparing things or people, these situations just keep arising everywhere. Where do you want to go? To the movies or to the park? How do you want to go? By bus or by subway? Choices are there all the time, and you need to know how to make comparisons in Spanish to choose the right one.
In this post, we’ll learn that comparisons in Spanish are not so complicated and will see the different types of comparisons that exist, including their simplified formulas to facilitate their study.
Comparisons in Spanish
Do you really need to know how to make comparisons in Spanish? Definitely! You are making comparisons all the time. Just think about it. Espresso or cappuccino? Beach or mountains? Football or baseball? Even in politics you need to compare which candidate is better than the other.
Making comparisons in Spanish is quite straightforward. Yes, there are a few different ways to do it, but once you understand each one of them, it’s only a case of repeating the given formulas. So no, this is not one of those tricky Spanish topics, just another building block in your complete understanding of the Spanish language.
Types of Comparisons in Spanish
The different types of comparisons in Spanish are divided into comparisons of inequality (which themselves are divided into más/menos… que… and más/menos de), comparisons of equality, superlatives, one-word comparisons, and irregular comparisons.
Let’s start with the comparisons of inequality:
This formula is the most common and the easiest to understand. It’s how you would say in English that Paris is “more romantic than London,” or that someone is “less complicated than me.”
First Formula to making comparisons in Spanish:
más ____________ que = more ____________ than
menos ____________ que = less ____________ than
Now, what kind of words can you put in the line between más/menos and que?
Buenos Aires es más caótico que Montevideo. – Buenos Aires is more chaotic than Montevideo.
Ella habla más suavemente que él. – She talks more softly than him.
Carlos corre menos kilómetros que Juan. – Carlos runs less kilometers than Juan.
When comparing in Spanish involves quantities or numbers the formula changes a little bit in its positive form, by adding de instead of que. However, it stays the same in its negative form. Let’s see:
más de [número] = more than [number]
no ____________ más que [número] . = no ____________ more than [number]
menos de [número] . = less than [number]
no ____________ menos que [número] . = no ____________fewer than [number]
Martha tiene más de 4 gatos. – Martha has more than 4 cats.
Martha no tiene más que 4 gatos. – Martha has no more than 4 cats.
Hay menos de 10 niños en el salón. – There are fewer than 10 kids in the classroom.
No hay menos que 10 niños en el salón – There are no fewer than 10 kids in the classroom.
Comparisons of Equality
As the name implies, you use these comparisons in Spanish when the things you are comparing are equal.
Erika es tan alta como Mónica. – Erika is as tall as Mónica.
En Chile se vive tan bien como en Colombia. – In Chile you live as well as in Colombia.
igual de… que
Patinar es igual de divertido que esquiar. – Skating is as fun as skiing.
Jorge es igual de bueno para el fútbol que Enrique. – Jorge is as good at football as Enrique.
As you may have noticed, in these past two cases we are using adjectives and adverbs to compare: alta, bien, divertido, bueno. This formula to compare is always completed with the use of an adjective or adverb.
tan + adjetivo/adverbio + como = as + adjective/adverb + as
igual de + adjetivo/adverbio + que = as + adjective/adverb + as
In this case, we use nouns for the comparisons in Spanish.
tanto + sustantivo + como = as many/much + noun + as
Depending on the gender and number of the noun, you have to modify tanto to tantos, tanta, or tantas.
Sol tiene tanto talento como Catalina. – Sol has as much talent as Catalina.
Toño se comió tantos tacos como Lucía. – Toño ate as many tacos as Lucía.
Ella tiene tanta vergüenza como él. – She is as embarrassed as him.
Manuel llamó tantas veces como Miguel. – Manuel called as many times as Miguel.
Making comparisons in Spanish using superlatives is quite simple. First, you have to add an article (el, la, los, las) at the beginning of the comparison, followed by a noun and the words más/menos (more/less); then just use the adjective of your preference and follow that with a de. This is the equivalent to using “the best,” “the worst,” “the most,” “the least,” or the suffix “-est”.
el/la/los/las + sustantivo + más/menos + adjetivo + de = the + most/least + adjective + noun + of
El fútbol es el deporte más popular del* mundo. – Soccer is the most popular sport in the world.
La pizza es la comida más famosa de Italia. – Pizza is the most famous food from Italy.
Mis hermanos son los estudiantes menos avanzados del* grupo. – My brothers are the least advanced students in the group.
Las Antillas son las islas más hermosas del* mundo. – The Antilles are the most beautiful islands in the world.
In three of the previous examples, you would have had the words de el, but it’s incorrect to write them that way! Whenever those words appear together in a sentence you have to simply contract them and create a new word: del. The meaning is the same, it’s just a convention of use to avoid a cacophony.
de + el = del
Some people classify this type of comparisons in Spanish as just a subclass of the superlative ones. That’s because they have ‘built-in’ the superlative effect in them. Just as in English you can’t say “the most best” in Spanish you can’t say el más mejor. In these cases, the formula stays as follows:
el/la/los/las + adjetivo + de = the + adjective + of/in
El Real Madrid es el mejor equipo del mundo. – Real Madrid is the best team in the world.
Karla es la peor estudiante de su clase. – Karla is the worst student in her class.
In Spanish, you can say el más grande (the biggest) or el más pequeño (the smallest), but there are words that express the same idea without using más/menos.
Jorge es el mayor de todos los primos. – Jorge is the oldest of all the cousins.
La economía es la menor de mis preocupaciones. – The economy is the least of my worries.
Sometimes, you use one-word comparisons without expressing a superlative idea. As well as you can’t say “the most best,” you also can’t say “the more better,” or “the less worse.” For these cases, even if you don’t express a superlative, you still can use mejor, peor, mayor, menor.
verbo ser/estar + mejor/peor/mayor/menor + que = verb to be + one-word comparison + than
Mi coche es mejor que el tuyo. – My car is better than yours.
La economía está peor que el año pasado. – The economy is worse than last year.
Carlos es mayor que José. – Carlos is older than José.
Lisa es menor que Rocío. – Lisa is younger than Rocío.
¡Eres el mejor estudiante!
You’re the best student! And now that you know how to make comparisons in Spanish don’t forget to practice them in real-life situations. Start by using just one of the formulas in your Spanish conversations, once you’ve mastered that one, move to the next and then another one. Before you even notice it, you’ll be making all kinds of comparisons in Spanish.
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