Spanish Superlatives

Spanish Superlatives

Many native English speakers may not know what a superlative is in English, let alone in Spanish, and the word ‘superlative’ is not one often used outside of a linguistic context. Rest assured, superlatives are incredibly simple, in both English as well as Spanish.

What are superlatives?

In both English as well as Spanish, there are three basic ways of comparing items. These three ways are as follows:

  • Equality
  • Inequality
  • Superlative

For example, a comparison of equality would be “this pizza is as good as hers”, while a comparison of inequality would be “this pizza is better than hers”. The third way is called a superlative, meaning that the item, in this case pizza, is either the most or the least of something. In English we would say “this pizza is the best”, or “this pizza is the worst”, meaning that it fits squarely on one end of the spectrum.

In English, we construct superlatives in a relatively simple way, for example, worst or best, or by adding an “est” to the end of an adjective- hottest, coldest, longest, shortest.

Using superlatives in Spanish

Constructing superlatives in Spanish is slightly more complicated than in English, and there are three basic ways of constructing them.

The first is by using “más (adjective) de” or “menos (adjective) de”, which roughly translates as “most of” and “least of”. For example: Mi hermana es la más hermosa de nuestra familia (My sister is the most beautiful in our family) or Mi papa es el menos tranquilo de nuestra familia (My father is the least calm in our family).

The basic way to think about this way of using superlatives in Spanish is as follows:

el/la (the) + menos/mas (less/more) + adjective + de (of)

The second way to construct a superlative when you are using single word comparisons, such as “peor” (worst) or “mejor” (best). In these cases you do not need to use “más” or “menos”. For example, Ella es la mayor (she is the oldest) or El es el menor (he is the youngest)

The basic way to think about this way of using superlatives in Spanish is as follows:

el/la (the) + adjective + de (of)

The third way of constructing a superlative in Spanish is by simply adding “ísimo” or “íssima” to the end of an adjective as well as certain adverbs. For example, you could say Eso vino es buenísimo” which directly translates to this wine is “super” or “extremely” or “very” good, but in Spanish really means “the best”. You can do this with most adjectives, for example, “pequeño” (small) becomes “pequenisimo” (smallest), or “agradecido” (grateful) becomes “agradecidisimo” (most grateful).

As you can see, with so many ways to express something as simple as a superlative, it can be very easy for those who are not experts in the Spanish language to make mistakes. This is why it’s so important to use professional translation and copy editing services such as Spanish with Style. This ensures your documents are being translated professionally and accurately, and that your message is being construed clearly.