Using ‘Más’ in Spanish

‘More’ is its most frequent English equivalent

Sign on a shop in Madrid: el regalo más saludable
A sign outside a shop in Madrid, Spain, calls a bicycle the healthiest gift.

Olga Berrios / Creative Commons.

Más is the word most commonly used in Spanish as the equivalent of "more" and sometimes "most." It typically functions as an adverb but sometimes as an adjective or pronoun. Here is a guide to its usage:

Using Más to Mean ‘More’ or ‘Most’

In its most simple use, más can come before an adjective or adverb to mean "more" or "most," depending on the context. In the same way, más is often the equivalent of the English suffix "-er" or "-est."

  • ¿Cuál es el idioma más fácil para aprender? (What is the easiest language to learn?)
  • Es más difícil vivir en el éxito. (It is more difficult to live with success.)
  • ¿Si me baño en cloro seré más blanco? (If I bathe in chlorine, will I be whiter?)
  • La propulsión warp de Star Trek se usa para viajar más rápido que la luz. (Star Trek's warp propulsion is used to travel faster than light.)
  • El monte Fujiyama es conocido como la más hermosa montaña en la Tierra. (Mount Fujiyama is known as the most beautiful mountain on Earth.)

When it comes before a noun, más can function as a masculine or feminine adjective and also be translated as "more." Its use as an adjective to mean "most" is possible but uncommon.

  • Hay más felicidad en dar que en recibir. (There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.)
  • Puedes enviar una invitación por correo electrónico a dos o más personas a la vez. (You can send an invitation by email to two or more people at a time.)
  • ¿Causa la contaminación del aire más muertes extra al año que el tabaco? (Does air pollution cause more additional deaths each year than tobacco?)

Más can also function as a pronoun in the same way where it substitutes for "más + noun":

  • Tengo más que tú. (I have more than you.)
  • Compramos más cuando tenemos hambre. (We are buying more when we are hungry.)
  • Lo más que puedes lograr es ser número dos. (The most you can accomplish is to be number two.)

Más Que vs. Más De

The phrase "more than" is nearly always translated as más de or más que. However, the two phrases are used in different ways, aren't interchangeable, and should not be confused with each other.

Más de is used with numbers and quantities:

  • Las olas, de más de siete metros de altura, hicieron estragos. (The waves, more than 7 meters high, created havoc.)
  • Había más de un mil espectadores. (There were more than 1,000 spectators.)
  • Es importante beber más de dos litros de agua al día. (It is important to drink more than two liters of water per day.)

Más que is used otherwise. As in the second example below, an adjective or adverb can come between the más and the que.

  • Hoy te amo más que ayer. (I love you more today than yesterday.)
  • La paz es más difícil que la guerra. (Peace is more difficult than war.)
  • Somos mucho más que amigos. (We are much more than friends.)

Using Más With Verbs

Although más is often translated as "more" when used as an adverb following a verb, often it is better to let the context suggest a different translation:

  • ¡No puedo vivir más con mis padres! (I can't live any longer with my parents!)
  • Pienso más cuando no hay distracciones. (I think better when there aren't any distractions.)
  • Esta pilas recargables duran más. (These rechargeable batteries last longer.)

Using Más in Arithmetic

In mathematical formulas, más is the equivalent of "plus":

  • Dos más dos es igual a cuatro. (Two plus two equals four.)
  • La suma de cero más cualquier número da dicho número. (The sum of zero plus any number gives that number.)

Más vs. Mas

Más should not be confused with mas, even though the two words sound alike and come from the same origin. Mas is a preposition meaning "but." You won't hear it used very often—mas has a mostly literary use and in real life the word choice for "but" is pero.

Centuries ago, más and mas started out as the same word, with the former eventually getting the accent because it would get the stress as its "more" and "but" meanings diverged.

Key Takeaways

  • Más is usually used as an adverb to mean "more" or "most."
  • Más can also be used as an adjective or pronoun meaning "more."
  • Más and mas are not the same word; the latter is a literary word meaning "but."