Comparatives and Superlatives

'More' and 'Most,' 'Less' and 'Least'

apples
Esta manzana es el mejor. (This apple is the best.). Photo by Olle Svensson; licensed via Creative Commons.

Spanish typically uses the adverbs más and menos before an adjective to indicate that something has more or less of a particular quality. Such phrases are known as comparatives. Más is often the equivalent of the English suffix "-er" when applied to adjectives.

Here are some examples:

  • Él es guapo. He is handsome.
  • Él es menos guapo. He is less handsome.
  • Él es más guapo. He is more handsome.
  • Ella es inteligente. She is intelligent.
  • Ella es menos inteligente. She is less intelligent.
  • Ella es más inteligente. She is more intelligent.

Such comparatives are explained more fully in the lesson on comparisons of inequality.

Superlatives are used to indicate that something has the most of a particular quality, as can be done with the English suffix "-est." They are formed in Spanish much like above, except that the definite article is also used, as in these examples:

  • Él es el más guapo. He is the handsomest.
  • Él es el menos guapo. He is the least handsome.
  • Ella es la más inteligente. She is the most intelligent.
  • Ella es la menos inteligente. She is the least intelligent.

Use of the suffix -ésimo or one of its variations is sometimes considered a type of superlative:

  • Ella es altísima. She is extremely tall.
  • Él es guapísimo. He is extremely handsome.

The most common irregular comparatives and superlatives are those involving bueno (good) and malo (bad). The comparative and superlative forms are mejor and peor, respectively:

  • Este coche es bueno. This car is good.
  • Este coche es mejor. This car is better.
  • Este coche es el mejor. This car is the best.
  • Esta casa es mala.This house is bad.
  • Esta casa es peor. This house is worse.
  • Esta casa es el peor. This house is the worst.

The forms mayor and menor can also be used as irregular comparatives and superlatives when referring to age:

  • Pablo es viejo. Pablo is old.
  • Pablo es mayor que su hermano. Pablo is older than his brother.
  • Pablo es el mayor de su familia. Pablo is the oldest in his family.
  • Katrina es joven. Katrina is young.
  • Katrina es menor que su hermana. Katrina is younger than her sister.
  • Katrina es la menor de su familia. Katrina is the youngest in her family.

Finally, pésimo is sometimes considered to be an optional superlative of malo, and máximo such a superlative of grande.

Sample Sentences

Mi principal compromiso es más pragmático que ideológico. (My main promise is more pragmatic than ideological.)

El lago de Saoseo es más azul que el cielo. (Lake Saoseo is bluer than the sky.)

La niña cuya belleza le dio el título de "la niña más bonita del mundo" ha firmado un lucrativo contrato. (The girl whose beauty gave her the title of "the prettiest girl in the world" has signed a lucrative contract.)

Son más baratos en otras tiendas. (They are cheaper in other stores.)

No hay personaje más o menos útil; todos tienen su propio rol en el juego. (There is no character more or less useful; all of them have their own roles in the game.)

No creo que sea menos importante. (I don't believe it's less important.)

Este año será el mejor año de la historia de la humanidad. (This year will be the best year in this history of humanity.)

De todos los posibles escenarios, ese me parece el menos probable. (Of all the possible scenarios, that seems to me to be the least likely.)

Esta decisión es la más difícil de toda mi vida. (This decision is the most difficult one of my whole life.)

Gracias, abuelos, por esta divertísima mañana que nos habéis regalado, ¡sois los mejores! (Thanks, grandparents, for this most fun morning you have given us. You're the best!)

Considerada por todos como la peor película de ciencia ficción de la historia. (It is considered by everybody to be the worst science-fiction film in history.)