Spanish Superlative

Overview

Superlatives in Spanish are adjectives that you’ll use to compare three or more things where one is “the most” or “the least” in certain characteristics.

Wow, that was awesome

One of the most common ways to describe someone or something in Spanish is to compare it against something similar. If you think about it, people compare things against each other on a daily basis. As a result, you should take the time to master Spanish superlatives and comparatives. Comparative and superlative adjectives are an important part of learning Spanish. 

Spanish superlatives are closely related to comparative sentences since they describe the level of an attribute that a person, activity, or thing has. However, Spanish superlatives are words or structures that help you express that a subject is at the top (greatest) or at the bottom (least) of a group. In other words, you use superlatives in Spanish to: 

  • Express that a person in a group has outstanding characteristics that differentiate from his or her peers. 
  • Emphasize that a subject has the highest level of a certain quality.
    • Absolute superlative
    • Relative superlative

There are two types of superlatives in Spanish. Superlativo absolutodoesn’t rely on a comparison. On the other hand, relative superlatives are a comparison to determine what subject has the most outstanding characteristics of that group. 

Forming Absolute Superlatives

As mentioned above, absolute superlatives express and emphasize that a subject has a remarkable or extraordinary characteristic. Because of this, Spanish absolute superlatives don’t require you to compare one object with another. The most common way to form this type of superlative is to change the adjective or adverb by adding the ending ‘-ísimo’ or its feminine form ‘-ísima’. Let’s see some examples:

[Noun] + [verb conjugated] + [adjective/adverb] + ísimo

Espérame, caminas rapidísimo.
Wait for me, you walk extremely fast.

Estos zapatos están baratísimos.
These shoes are super cheap.

La comida de mi mamá es buenísima.
My mom’s food is great.

Forming Relative Superlative

Unlike absolute superlatives in Spanish, relative superlatives actually rely on a comparison. The purpose of this structure is to express that a person or thing inside a group has the most or least outstanding characteristics of all. To put it another way, this type of superlative locates the subject either at the bottom or at the topof a group based on a determined quality. In this case, the formulas we use are:

… [definite article] + más + [adjective]

Or: 

… [definite article] + menos + [adjective] 

Something to notice is that Spanish superlatives are always built with the verb ‘ser’. You also need to make sure that the adjectives and Spanish definite articles agree in number and gender with the noun. Here are some examples:

[Noun] + [‘ser’ conjugated] + [definite article] + más / menos + [adjective] 

Quiero el pastel más rico que venda.
I want the tastiest cake you sell.

Eres la persona más amable que he conocido.
You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met.

Sonia y Joselyn son las menos pacientes. 
Sonia and Joselyn are the least patient.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
Writing:
I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
Reading:
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
Listening:
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.