What's Better and What's Best?
As you often have to do in English, there will be times when your descriptions of things will require that you make comparisons between two or more items. Comparisons can be made to show equivalency or difference.
Two equal modifiers may be compared by using the construction tan + adjetivo/adverbio + como (as + adjective/adverb + as). For example:
|Mi coche es tan rápido como el de Raúl.||My car is as fast as Raul's.|
|El niño canta tan bien como su hermana.||The boy sings as well as his sister.|
Comparison of objects tends to center on quantity. As such, the construction above may be slightly altered: tanto + noun + como. For example:
|Mi computadora tiene tanta memoria como la tuya.||My computer has as much memory as yours.|
The general structure for comparison of unequals uses the adjective qualifier + que + noun/adjective/adverb. To show that something is more than another, simply use más (more) as the qualifier. For example:
|Hay más manzanas que naranjas.||There are more apples than oranges.|
|Roberto es más bajo que su hermano.||Robert is shorter than his brother.|
|Ella habla más rápidamente que David.||She speaks more quickly than David.|
Likewise, to show that something is less than something else, simply use menos (less, minus) as the qualifier. For example:
|Hay menos asientos que personas.||There are less seats than people.|
|El tango es menos popular en España que en Argentina.||Tango is less popular in Spain than in Argentina.|
|Él hace las cosas menos cuidadosamente que su compañero.||He does things less carefully than his partner.|
As you would expect, not all comparisons can be made so simply. Some adjectives and adverbs don't get along with más and menos. Instead, they are modified into the comparative form (this sometimes also occurs in English: compare “well” and “better”). For some examples, check the following table.
|bien (well)||mejor (better)|
|bueno (good)||mejor (better)|
|grande (big, large)||mayor (larger, older)|
|joven (young)||menor (younger)|
|mal (badly)||peor (worse)|
|malo (bad)||peor (worse)|
|mucho (much)||más (more)|
|pequeño (small)||menor (smaller)|
|poco (little)||menos (less)|
|viejo (old)||mayor (older)|
Following are a few examples of how these irregulars are treated in a sentence:
|El trabajo de Sandra es bueno, pero el de Susana es mejor.||Sandra's work is good, but Susana's is better.|
|Jaime es viejo, pero César es mayor.||Jaime is old, but Cesar is older.|
|Ser pobre es peor que ser feo.||Being poor is worse than being ugly.|
There are many other expressions that allow comparison, including: de la misma manera (in the same way); igual que (the same as); inferior a (inferior to); superior a (superior to); and parecido a (similar to).
Often you will need to describe things of an exceptional nature or quality. In English, you would add the ending “–est” to a modifier (adjective or adverb) to describe something that is the best—”biggest,” “strongest,” “smartest,” and so on. This form is known as superlative.
In Spanish, the superlative form also relies on the words más and menos, which appear with a definite article to signify “most” and “least.” The superlative construction works as follows: artículo definido + más/menos + adjetivo/adverbio + de (definite article “the” + more/less + adjective/adverb + of). For example:
|Supermán es el más poderoso de los superhéroes.||Superman is the most powerful of the superheroes.|
|Javier es el menos responsable de los hermanos.||Javier is the least responsible of the brothers.|
|Pepito es el estudiante más vago.||Pepito is the laziest student.|
Translate the following comparisons into Spanish. Use your English- to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English dictionary to look up words you don't already know. Then, check your answers.
1. You (informal, singular) sing as well as my sister.
2. I have as many coins as you.
3. There is less work than people.
4. Julio has more experience than Pedro.
5. You (formal, singular) are older than Jenny.