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Spanish 101B

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Equal and unequal comparisons and the Superlatives.

The Comparatives allow you to make comparisons between things of equal value or things of unequal value.

In expressions of Equality, we use Tanto/a/os/as ... como to express "as many ("things" -noun/s) as" or "as much ("stuff" noun) as": Tanto/a/os/as [noun/s] como.

We use this expression when comparing a number or quantity of a thing or things.

Yo tengo tantas bebidas como Paolo. I have as many drinks as Paolo.
Mi padre tiene tanto pelo como mi abuelo. My father has as much hair as my grandfather.

Notice that since tanto is being used as an adjective, it must agree with whatever thing is being compared.

In the first example, We use tantas because bebidas is feminine and plural; but in the second example we use tanto because pelo is masculine and singular.

We use the expression tan.. como when comparing characteristics and personality traits. It means "as (adjective or adverb) as".

For example:

Gumby es tan famoso como Pokey. Gumby is as famous as Pokey.
Pokey es tan rápido como Roadrunner. Pokey is as fast as Roadrunner.

Notice: since tan is an adverb it is invariable (it only has one form.) It doesn't change the way tanto does in order to agree in number and gender.

When we want to say we DO something as much as another person (or thing) we put "tanto como" together as a phrase. In this case tanto doesn't change since it is being used as an adverb.

Fátima estudia tanto como Nancy. Fátima studies as much as Nancy [does].
Bailo tanto como Jennifer. I dance as much as Jennifer [dances]
Nosotros viajamos tanto como ellos. We travel as much as they do [as much as they travel].

On the other hand, we use comparisons of Inequality when things are more or less SOMETHING than another thing or person, or when we have or do something more or less than another.

más [adjective/adverb/nouns] que more [adjective/adverb/nouns] than...
menos [adjective/adverb/nouns] que less [adjective/adverb/nouns] than...


Soy más alta que mi hermana. I'm taller than my sister. (I'm female)
Jessica bebe menos jugo de naranja que Sara. Jessica drinks less orange juice than Sara.
Brian es menos tímido que Jessica. Brian is less shy than Jessica.
Franchesca habla más idiomas que mucha gente. Franchesca speaks more languages than many people.
Pauline está más contenta que los otros estudiantes. Pauline is feeling happier than the other students.

Notice: adjectives must agree in gender and number with the subject in the comparison.

When we talk about activities we do, and want to say we do them more than or less than someone/something else, we first say what we do. Then we add one of the expressions "más que..." or "menos que" and finally name the person or thing to whom we are comparing the subject.

Vershara juega al golf más que Sara. Vershara plays golf more than Sara.
Nosotros estudiamos más que los estudiantes de francés We study more than the French students.
Yo como menos que mi hermano. I eat less than my brother.
  • When referring to a numeric quantity (a number) as a comparative, we use de:
    • Tengo más de treinta libros. I have more than thirty books.
  • An important note for the Comparatives
    • When comparing something or someone to yourself, use Yo not *mi or *me. In English, it is a very common error to say "*He is taller than me." But it really should be "He is taller than I." The full sentence structure of a comparative is "He is taller than I am (tall)." or "He is as nice as I am (nice)." This is the same in Spanish:
        • Él es más alto que yo.
        • Él es tan amable como yo.

The Superlatives are used to describe the Best or Worst of something.

To form the Superlative we use a definite article + "más" or "menos" + adjective + "de" then the group that the person or thing is being compared to.

For example:

Arnold Schwarzenegger es el actor más cómico del mundo. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the funniest actor in the world.
Arnold Schwarzenegger es el actor menos arrogante de Hollywood. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the least arrogant actor in Hollywood.
Arnold Schwarzenegger es el actor más fuerte de California. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the strongest actor in California.
Arnold Schwarzenegger es el actor menos guapo de Hollywood. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the least handsome actor in Hollywood.

There are irregular forms to say the Best, Worst, Oldest and Youngest:

Arnold Schwarzenegger es el mejor actor del mundo. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the best actor in the world.
Arnold Schwarzenegger es el peor actor del mundo. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the worst actor in the world.
Arnold Schwarzenegger es el mayor actor del mundo. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the oldest actor in the world.
Arnold Schwarzenegger es el menor actor del mundo. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the youngest actor in the world.
(It all depends on your opinion and point of view here.)