Adverbs of Quantity

Most Are Based on Adjectives

x-ray of hands
Casi me rompí la mano. (I almost broke my hand.). Photo by Michael Dorausch; licensed via Creative Commons.

Adverbs of quantity are those that explain how many or how much. They include many of the intensifiers (adverbs of intensity) and also include a few moderators (adverbs that diminish intensity).

Like other adverbs, the adverbs of quantity can affect the meanings of verbs, adjectives, other adverbs and occasionally entire sentences. As noted below, many of the adverbs of quantity can also serve as adjectives. When they're adjectives, they can vary with gender and number, while the adverb is always the same as the singular masculine form of the adjective. (This rule is sometimes violated in casual speech, and you may occasionally hear an adverb change to match a nearby noun. This grammatical tendency is considered substandard and is best not imitated.) For example, while poco is an adverb, the adjective can be poco, poca, pocos or pocas.

Here are some of the common adverbs of quantity along with sample sentences and possible translations:

Además (additionally, besides): This word typically refers to a verb or an entire sentence and is often used in the phrase además de

  • Y además es imposible. And furthermore it's impossible.
  • La comisión estudia además la creación de una junta consultiva. The commission is additionally studying the creation of an advisory board.
  • Además de casino, Santa Fe ahora tiene shopping. In addition to having a casino, Sante Fe now has shopping.
  • Además ¿qué es lo que podemos hacer allí? Besides, what can we do there?
  • Además, Raúl duerme en una habitación hipobárica para aumentar su rendimiento. In addition, Raul sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber to improve his performance.

Algo (somewhat, slightly): Don't confuse the adverbial meaning with its use as a pronoun meaning "something."

  • Me siento algo vieja. I'm feeling somewhat old.
  • El 23% dice que está "algo preocupado" o "muy preocupado" de que pueda perder su trabajo en los próximos 12 meses. Twenty-three percent say they are "somewhat worried" or "very worried" that they could lose their job in the next 12 months.

Apenas (barely, hardly):

  • Toco la guitarra desde hace apenas un año. I have played the guitar for barely a year.
  • Mi hijo apenas habla. My son barely speaks.

Bastante (enough, quite a bit): This word can also be used as an adjective or pronoun to mean "enough." As an adverb, it can have the meaning of sufficiency or to mean "considerably," depending on the context.

  • Me parece que no estudia bastante. It seems to me he doesn't study enough.
  • Es bastante inteligente y siempre tiene una respuesta para todo. He is quite intelligent and always has an answer for everything.
  • La verdad es que cantas bastante bien. The truth is you sing quite well.
  • Necesito saber de algún hotel bastante barato en Cádiz. I need to know of a sufficiently cheap hotel in Cadiz.

Casi (almost):

  • Comenzó hace casi tres años. It began almost three years ago.
  • Casi me rompí la mano. I almost broke my hand.
  • Su objetivo se había cumplido: ya era mucho más que "casi famosa". Her goal had been accomplished: She was now more than "almost famous."

Demasiado (too much): This word can also function as an adjective.

  • Ángela habla demasiado de su vida privada. Angela speaks too much about her private life.
  • Creo que soy demasiado guapa. Muchísima gente me lo dicen constantemente. I think I am much too pretty. Many people tell me that constantly.

Más (more, most): This word can also be used as adjective, pronoun or preposition. As an adverb, it is commonly used in making comparisons, although the comparison doesn't have to be explicitly stated.

  • Es el libro más poderoso del mundo. It's the most powerful book in the world.
  • En Italia funcionan más de 150 emisoras privadas. More than 150 private broadcasters operate in Italy.
  • Nadie te quiere más que yo. Nobody loves you more than I do.
  • Tienes que escoger cuál te gusta más de los dos. You have to pick which of the two you like more.
  • La palabra hablada más importante es "no". The most important spoken word is "no."
  • Soy el que más sabe de fútbol. I'm the one who knows most about soccer.
  • Tenemos que ser más competitivos. We have to be more competitive.

Medio (half): This word can also be used as an adjective.

  • La pila está medio muerta. The battery is half-dead.
  • Si la puerta está medio abierta, entonces la abre completamente. If the door is half-open, then open it completely.

Menos (less, least): This word is used much the same way as más except with the opposite meaning.

  • El Superman actual es menos poderoso que sus predecesores. The current Superman is less powerful than his predecessors.
  • Yo pienso que la gente inteligente es menos feliz. I think intelligent people are less happy.

Mucho (much, very, a lot): This word can also be used as an adjective or pronoun.

  • Mi novio habla mucho con su ex. My boyfriend talks a lot with his ex.
  • La nueva es mucho mejor. The new one is much better.

Muy (very):

  • Ha sido un partido muy difícil. It has been a very difficult game.
  • La iguana cambiará su color de piel a uno muy amarillo para reflejar el calor. The iguana will change its skin color to one very yellow in order to reflect the heat.

Poco (a little, not much, not): This word can also be used as an adjective or pronoun. As a plural adjective, it typically means "few."

  • Estudia poco pero aprende mucho. She studies a little but learns a lot.
  • La mitad de los españoles come poco pan creyendo que engorda. Half of Spaniards each little bread because they believe it makes them fat.
  • Mi primo es una persona poco complicada. My cousin is an uncomplicated person.

Sólo (only): Traditionally, this word has been spelled with an accent when it functions as an adverb, although the accent isn't strictly necessary if there is no chance of confusing it with solo the adjective.

  • Sólo como carne producida orgánicamente. I only eat organically produced meat.
  • Yo sólo quería hacer mi trabajo. I only wanted to do my work.

Tan, tanto (so, as, so much): Tanto as an adverb is shortened to tan when it comes before an adjective, adverb or a phrase functioning as an adverb or adjective. Such is the case most of the time.

  • Es tan fácil como el uno, dos, tres. It's as easy as one, two, three.
  • ¿Por qué hablan tan rápido el español? Why do they speak Spanish so fast?
  • Era tan flaca que la gente la confundía con un palillo de dientes. She was so skinny people confused her for a toothpick.
  • Estudiaba tanto que me dolía. I studied so much it hurt.