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Adjectives - Comparative and Superlative
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  Verb Tenses  
    An introduction to verbs & personal pronouns  
    Verbs - Ser (to be) Estar (to be)  
    The present simple tense - regular verbs (I am)  
    The present simple tense - irregular verbs (I am)  
    The past simple tense - regular verbs (I was)  
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    Reflexive verbs - Part 1  
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    Adjectives - (Comparative and superlative)  
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    Adverbs - Part 1 - (words ending in -ly in English)  
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Summary of Lesson
Comparative and superlative adjectives explained. (..er /..est / more / less / most / least.) How they are used in both Spanish and English.
A look at irregular comparative and superlative adjectives. (..más peor, (more worse,) is not grammatically correct!)
Looking at other ways of making comparisons with adjectives, and ways of giving more emphasis.
   
  What you can learn from this lesson
   
To understand what comparative and superlative adjectives are and how they are formed in both English and Spanish.
Understanding that comparative and superlative adjectives are formed in the same way as comparative and superlative adverbs. The key is to understand the difference between adjectives and adverbs and how sometimes a word can be both.
Knowing how irregular comparative and superlative adjectives are used differently in conversation without the inclusion of the words 'más' or 'menos'.
Knowing in what situations certain irregular comparative and superlative adjectives are most commonly used in conversation. Recognising when spelling changes occur.
Being able to use Spanish equivalent phrases such as 'as..as' to make comparisons. Being able to give emphasis in conversation by using equivalent words such as 'very' or 'really'.
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PART 1

 

The first part of this lesson explains what comparative adjectives are, how they are formed and how they are used in both English and Spanish.

 

Comparative adjectives

 

Comparative adjectives are used to describe nouns that are more or less of something and are usually used to give comparisons between things. In English these types of adjectives end in -er or -ier or we use the words more or less in front of the adjective. In Spanish the words más (more) and menos (less) are used.

 

El viajar por tren será más lento.  Traveling by train will be slower.
La prueba fue más fácil de lo que (yo) pensé. The test was easier than I thought.
(Tú) deberías ser más atento.  You should be more thoughtful.
Su  falda es menos atractiva que la mía.  Her skirt is less attractive than mine.

 

Superlative adjectives

 

Superlative adjectives are used to describe nouns that are the most or least of something and again are usually used to give comparisons between things. In English these types of adjectives end in -est or we use the words most or least in front of the adjective. In Spanish a definite article with one of the following sentence structures are used. The first of the two is the most common.


(el/la/los/las) + noun + más (most), or menos (least)
OR
noun or (noun phrase) + (el/la/los/las) + más (most), or menos (least)

 

Fue el hotel más limpio que podía encontrar. It was the cleanest hotel I could find.
Es la guía más útil que hay.  Its the most helpful guide there is.
Yo compré la marca menos cara. I bought the least expensive brand.
Mi pintura fue la más hermosa . My picture was the most beautiful

 

Being specific

 

Because in Spanish the words más and menos are used to mean something that is both more or less and most or least of something it might sometimes be necessary to specify exactly what is being said.

 

Él apostó en el caracol más lento.  He bet on the slower snail.
Él apostó en el caracol más lento.  He bet on the slower snail.

 

In this situation how do we know in Spanish what is the specific meaning if the translation is the same? To be more specific we could say:

 

Él apostó en el caracol más lento de los dos. He bet on the slower snail of the two.
Él apostó en el caracol más lento de todos. He bet on the slowest snail of them all. 

 

Making comparisons

 

To make a comparison using comparative adjectives the word que (than), is used as follows:

 

Él es más gordo que yo. He’s fatter than me.
Este libro es menos interesante que este. This book is less interesting than this one.

 

PART 2

 

This part of the lesson looks at irregular comparative and superlative adjectives. Most comparative and superlative adjectives are regular in both Spanish and English but there are a small number that are not.

 

For example in English we would not say the following:

 

This movie is more good than this one.
OR
This movie is the most good I’ve ever seen.

 

The same is also true in Spanish. Some comparative and superlative adjectives are formed without using the words más or menos. The following are the most common irregular comparative and superlative adjectives in Spanish and English:

 

  Comparative adjective Superlative adjective
adjective incorrect correct incorrect correct
bien más bien mejor el más bien el mejor
good more good better most good the best
mal más mal peor el más mal el peor
bad more bad worse most bad the worst

 

The adjectives grande (big) and pequeño (small) have two comparative and superlative forms in Spanish. One refers to size and the other refers to age. The comparative and superlative forms that refer to age are irregular as follows:

 

  Comparative adjective Superlative adjectives
adjective incorrect correct incorrect correct
grande más grande mayor el más grande el mayor
big bigger older biggest the oldest
pequeño más pequeño menor el más pequeño el menor
small smaller younger smallest the youngest

 

Note: The adjective viejo (old), and joven (young) are not used to make comparisons. They are only used to make non-comparative descriptions of age.

 

El hombre joven sale con la chica joven. The young boy goes out with the young girl.

 

Look at the difference between how grande might be used in conversation in each comparative form; regular and irregular.

 

Los elefantes son más grandes que los gatos. Elephants are bigger than cats.
Regular comparative form of grande used.  
Mis padres son mayores que los tuyos.  My parents are older than yours.
Irregular comparative form of grande used.  

 

When using the words greater or less in English we will often use the irregular comparative and superlative form of grande or pequeño in Spanish.

 

(Yo) tengo mayor respeto por ti ahora.  I have greater respect for you now.
Es de menor importancia. It’s of less importance.

 

PART 3

 

The final part of this lesson looks at other ways of making comparisons with adjectives. It also looks at ways in which more emphasis can be given when using adjectives.

 

Other ways of making comparisons

 

The most common way of making comparisons with adjectives without making comparative or superlative forms is to use tan + adjetivo +como (as + adjective + as).

 

Hazlo tan pronto como (tú) puedas.  Do it as quickly as you can.
No es tan bueno como esto. It’s not as good as this one.

 

Making comparisons with numbers

 

Sometimes we make comparisons with adjectives that are numbers. Making comparisons with numbers is dependant on whether a sentence is positive or negative. In positive sentences the following is used:

 

más + de + number
menos + de + number

 

Hay más de cinco pacientes.  There are more than five patients.
La bodega tiene menos de cien botellas.  The cellar has less than one hundred bottles.

 

In negative sentences the following is used:

 

no más / menos + que + number (Here the word que is often used to mean only in English.)

 

Queda no más que dos horas. There are only two hours left.
No hay más que dos especies. There are no more than two species.

 

Giving emphasis to adjectives

 

In English we give more emphasis to the things we describe by using words like very or really. In Spanish the following words might be used.

 

muy very
verdaderamente  really
realmente really

 

Yo estaba muy asustado. I was very scared.
Es verdaderamente triste. It’s really sad.
Ella es realmente bonita. She’s really beautiful.

 

Often when we want to give even greater emphasis to an adjective we add - ísimo to the end of it to form what is known as a derived adjective.

 

barato cheap
baratísimo incredibly cheap
fácil easy
facilísimo incredibly easy

 

Note: If the adjective ends in a vowel or takes an accent mark these must first be removed. Other spelling changes may occur with some other adjectives.

 

That concludes this lesson on the comparative and superlative adjectives. If you have not done so already watch the actual video for this lesson and then try one of the associated quizzes to test your understanding.

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