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This time we are going to learn the comparative in Spanish, which is composed basically of: equality, inferiority, superiority, superlative, irregular comparatives and finally the diminutive.
In general comparative clauses are used simply to compare things. They tell us how one thing is in quality or quantity related to another thing. They can be superior, inferior or equal. A comparison can be done with adjectives and adverbs or nouns.
Spanish Equality (Igualdad):
To form equality in Spanish we use tan…como (as...as) especially when comparing adjectives and adverbs, tan never changes in the comparison or contrast of qualities.
Español es tan importante como El Inglés. (Spanish is as important as English)
Juan es tan alto como Eduardo.( John is as tall as Edward).
Ella corre tan rápida como mi hermana. (She runs as fast as my sister).
When comparing nouns, tanto…como (as much as, as many as) is used. Note that tanto changes to tanta, tantas, tantos to agree with the noun's gender and number.
Maria tiene tanto dinero como su hermana. (Mary has as much money as her sister)
No tengo tantos amigos como tú (I don't have as many friends as you do).
Spanish Inferiority (Inferioridad) and Spanish Superiority (Superioridad)
When comparing adjectives, adverbs and nouns, we normally use menos…que (less...than) for inferiority and más...que (more...than) for superiority. Note that menos and más don’t change with gender or number.
El jardín de mi vecino es menos atractivo que el mio. (The garden of my neighbor is less attractive than mine).
El habla más idiomas que su padre (he speaks more languages than his father).
Note: when dealing with expressions of quantity or amount we use de instead of que:
Tengo que ahorrar más de 100 dollares para comprarme una enciclopedia. (I have to save more than 100 dollars to buy an encyclopedia)
Esperé menos de 20 minutos para el autobús. (I waited less than 20 min for the bus).
Tengo más de 50 euros. (I have more than 50 euros).
Mi hija tiene menos de 18 años. (My daughter is less than 18 years old).
Spanish Superlative (superlativo):
The superlative indicates the quantitative or qualitative superiority of one object in comparison to a certain group. In other words, Superlatives express the highest or lowest degree of comparison when comparing two or more things. The difference between superlative and comparative is that the superlative goes one step further. It compares one fact not to only one other fact but to all other facts. There are 2 main ways to express a superlative idea. Its construction is similar to that of the comparative form. Spanish superlatives are formed by placing the definite article before the noun being compared, and note that the words más and menos do not change with gender or number. In these instances, only the article determines the gender and the number of the subject. The table below shows how the superlative is formed:
la chica más guapa de todos. (She
is the cutest girl of all).
Estos árboles son los más antiguos del aldea. (These trees are the oldest in the village).
Nadia es la más delgada en la casa. (Nadia is the skinniest in the house)
Las Islas Canarias son las más atractivas en España. (Canary Islands are the most attractive in Spain).
Superlatives are also formed by simply adding the suffix -ísimo (-a, -os, -as) to an adjective or an adverb after taking the adjective ending -o/-a away:
Note that the (o) of alto and viejo is omitted because of the í of ísimo since the í has priority. And also note that this kind of superlatives agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies.
Maria es guapísima. (Mary is extremely cute). Mario es altísimo. (Mario is very tall).
Gloria y Mona son inteligentísimas. (Gloria and Mona are extremely intelligent)
Spanish Irregular Comparatives:
In English we say good- better- the best. gooder or the goodest are not correct, same thing in Spanish, there are some irregularities. The following are adjectives and adverbs with irregular comparative and superlative forms:
There are only a few diminutives in English like kitty, doggy... while in Spanish most of nouns and adjectives have diminutive form. In English to avoid this gap we add the word "little”. The most common Spanish diminutive suffixes are -ito and -cito (-ita and -cita for feminine) mi plantita (my little plant). The rules aren't hard and the tendency is that words ending in -a, -o or -te form the diminutive by dropping the final vowel and adding -ito or -ita, while -cito or -ecito are added to other words ending in e. We find also the diminutive suffix -illo and -cillo (-illa, -cilla for the feminine), -ico, -cico, -uelo, -zuela, -ete, -cete, -ín and iño (-ica, -cica, -uela, -zuela, -ete, -cete, -ína and iña for the feminine).
In Spanish the diminutive suffixes such as -ito is used not only to indicate size but also to indicate affection. In English little friend doesn’t necessary mean small, often indicate more about the speaker's feelings toward the person or object than to its size. Note that the diminutive suffixes tend to be used in spoken Spanish more than in the written one. So in general Diminutives are used to express smallness or affection.
Also in Spanish there is a way to form a new word not necessarily a diminutive of the original word, nor an affectionate way to talk about something like: mantequilla (butter), panecillo (bread roll), martillo (hammer), bolsillo (pocket), cajetilla (packet), bolsillo (pocket), ventanilla (ticket office), carbonilla (cinder), cabellitos (merry-go-round), cabecilla (ringleader), vaquilla (heifer), silla (chair). And even these words ending with illo/illa ito/ita …. Still can have a diminutive form:
martillo/ hammer ---> martillito
bolsillo/ pocket ---> bolsillito
silla/ chair ---> sillita
Note: The diminutive -ito ending should not be confused with the -ito ending in some past participles such as frito (fried) and maldito (cursed).
Summary of Spanish Comparative:
Comparison forms are equality, inferiority, superiority, and the superlative. They’re simply used to compare things, either in quantity or quality, they can be superior, inferior or equal, and a comparison can be done with adjectives and adverbs or nouns. The diminutive form is used to express size or affection.
This table will show you all kind of Spanish comparatives & some forms of Spanish diminutive:
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