Superlatives in Spanish

What is the best part about learning a new language? And what about the hardest? If you want to discuss these things in Spanish, you will need to learn to use Spanish superlatives. Keep on reading to see how easy this is!

What Is a Superlative?

If you understood the first paragraph in this article, good news! You already know how to use English superlatives, which means you are halfway there.

The words "best" and "hardest" are examples of relative superlatives; in other words, they are adjectives (or sometimes adverbs) that compare the thing or individual they describe with all others in a certain class or group:

  • Lucy is the most elegant person in the party.
  • Katie is the most ambitious person I know.

Another type of superlative is an absolute superlative. This is used when you want to say something is extreme in one direction or another, without comparing it to a group. In English, we often use the words “very” or “really” for this, for instance:

  • Beth is very smart.
  • My brother is really tall.

As you are about to see, both these types of superlatives also exist in Spanish.

Relative Superlatives in Spanish

Spanish relative superlatives are actually not that different from English ones. Let's take another look at one of the examples in the previous section:

  • Lucy is the most elegant person in the party.

This phrase follows a simple formula: someone or something is the most adjective (or the adjectivest) in/of a group. Spanish relative superlatives also follow a similar, simple formula:

  • Lucy es la persona más elegante de la fiesta.

In other words, if you want to say that a thing of person is the most something in a group, you use the following formula:

  • [thing or person] es [definite article] más[adjective] de[group].

To change "most" for "least," follow this formula:

  • [thing or person] es [definite article] menos[adjective] de[group].

Let's see how this works with some examples:

  • Usain Bolt es el hombre más rápido del mundo. - Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world.
  • Ana es la más tímida de su clase. - Ana is the shyest in her class.
  • Juan es el más responsable de sus amigos. - Juan is the most responsible one of his friends.
  • Yo soy la más alta de mis hermanas. - I'm the tallest of my sisters.

Irregular Relative Superlatives

Just like in English, some Spanish superlatives are irregular and don't follow the rules mentioned above. Here are some of the most common ones:

English Adjective

Adjective

Superlative

Good

Bueno/a

Mejor

Bad

Malo/a

Peor

Old

Viejo

Mayor

Young

Joven

Menor

Let's see some examples:

  • Él es el mejor estudiante de su clase. - He is the best student in his class.
  • Es mi peor miedo. - It is my worst fear.
  • Ella es la mayor de sus primas. - She is the eldest of her cousins.
  • Soy el menor de mis hermanos. - I am the youngest of my brothers.

It is worth noting that viejo and joven can sometimes be used as regular superlatives. It would be odd to say that a 5-year old is el más viejo in his class, because a 5-year old is not old. In that case, mayor would be preferred. However, you could say something like mi perro de 16 años es el más viejo de la cuadra (my 16-year old dog is the oldest in the block).

Absolute Superlatives in Spanish

Now that you know how to use relative superlatives, it's time to move on to absolute ones, and there are different ways to do this in Spanish.

Muy

The first way to transform a Spanish adverb or adjective into an absolute superlative is muy fácil, in other words: very easy.

While in English you can simply pair adverbs and adjectives with the word "very", in Spanish you can pair them with "muy". Let's take a look at some examples:

  • Este café está muy caliente. - This coffee is very hot.
  • La casa no está muy limpia. - The house isn't very clean.
  • Te ves muy bien. - You look very good.

Facilísimo

Another way to form absolute superlatives with some adjectives is with a suffix: -ísimo.

You can see this at work in the following table with some common Spanish adjectives that use this suffix:

English Adjective

Adjective

Superlative

Good

Bueno/a

Buenísimo/a

Bad

Malo/a

Malísimo/a

Interesting

Interesante

Interesantísimo

Fast

Rápido/a

Rapidísimo/a

Beautiful

Bello/a

Bellísimo/a

Easy

Fácil

Facilísimo/a

Difficult

Difícil

Dificilísimo/a

Let's see them at work:

  • Esta ciudad es bellísima. - This city is really beautiful.
  • Este ejercicio es facilísimo. - This exercise is very easy.
  • La prueba fue dificilícima. - The test was really difficult.
  • Tengo un auto rapidísimo. - I have a very fast car.

Superfácil

Finally, like it is sometimes done in English, absolute superlatives in Spanish can be formed by pairing adjectives and adverbs with different prefixes, like super-, or re-, among others:

  • ¡Esta habitación está superfría! - This room is super cold!
  • ¡Cuidado! La sopa está recaliente. - Careful! The soup is super hot.

Review all these rules and, once you have learned them, put them into practice discussing the high and lows of learning Spanish!

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