Using Comparatives in Spanish

Comparatives are one of those things that often come up when you're learning a new language, but what are they exactly? The answer is pretty straightforward: comparatives are words or structures you can use to make comparisons.

There are different types of comparative structures and they depend on the relationship between the things you are comparing. Learn to use them, and they will be no comparison you can't make in Spanish!

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Unequal Comparisons

Spanish grammar makes a distinction between equal and unequal comparative structures. Unequal comparatives are used when the two things you are comparing are different.

If you are comparing how tall two people are and one is taller than the other, you would use an unequal comparison.

To formulate this type of comparison in Spanish, you should use the following structure:

  • Más/menos X que Y. - More/less X than Y.

In that formula, X can be an adjective, an adverb or even a noun. Let's see how this works:

  • Ella tiene más mascotas que él. - She has more pets than him.
  • Él tiene menos hermanos que ella. - He has fewer brothers than her.
  • Yo soy más alto que tú. - I am taller than you.
  • Juan corre más rápido que José. - Juan runs faster than José.

A handful of Spanish adjectives have irregular forms that can be used to express these comparisons. Here are some examples:

  • Tu teléfono es mejor que el mío. - Your phone is better than mine.
  • Mi teléfono es peor que el tuyo. - My phone is worse than yours.
  • Lucía es mayor que Patricia. - Lucía is older than Patricia.
  • Florencia es menor que Mercedes. - Florencia is younger than Mercedes.

Equal Comparisons

Of course, not every comparison is about pointing out differences. Sometimes you want to mention similarities. This is where equal comparisons come in.

To use an equal comparison in Spanish, follow one of these two formulas:

  • Tan X como Y. - As X as Y. (When X is an adjective or an adverb)
  • Tantos X como Y. - As many/much X as Y. (When X is a noun)

When using the formula for nouns, keep in mind that the word "tantos" will vary depending on the noun that follows it:

Tanto

For singular masculine nouns.

Esta torta tiene tanto azúcar como esa.
(This cake has as much sugar as that one.)

Tantos

For plural masculine nouns.

Tengo tantos amigos como tú.
(I have as many brothers as you.)

Tanta

For singular feminine nouns.

Siento tanta alegría como tú.
(I feel as much joy as you do).

Tantas

For plural feminine nouns.

Esa caja tiene tantas manzanas como esta.
(That box has as many apples as this one.)

Let's look at some more examples, this time of equal comparisons using adverbs and adjectives:

  • Corro tan despacio como tú. - I run as slowly as you do.
  • Bruno es tan alto como Andrés. - Bruno is as tall as Andrés.
  • Australia es tan caluroso como Sudáfrica. - Australia is as hot as South Africa.
  • Ella se levanta tan temprano como él. - She gets up as early as him.
  • Llegaste tan tarde como yo. - You arrived as late as I did.

You can also use this structure to make negative comparisons:

  • Mi perro no es tan grande como el tuyo. - My dog is not as big as yours.
  • Ella no cocina tan bien como tú. - She doesn't cook as well as you.
  • Santiago no estudió tanto como Mateo. - Santiago didn't study as much as Mateo.

How do Spanish comparatives compare to English ones? Do you think they are easier or harder? Use what you've learnt to answer this question in Spanish!