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Irregular Comparatives & Superlatives in Spanish

Instructor: Ashley Zehel

Ashley has a M.A. in Spanish as well as a B.S. in Foreign Language Education. She has taught K-12 and now teaches college level.

If you want to compare two things, or declare something as the least or most, you will need to use comparatives and superlatives. While regular comparatives and superlatives usually employ the word ''más'' before an adjective, this focuses on irregular forms that do not.

Irregular Comparatives and Superlatives Defined

If you are familiar with regular comparatives and superlatives, these follow a rather straight-forward formula placing más (more/most) in front of an adjective.

Irregular comparatives and irregular superlatives are words that do not need the word más. Instead, the word changes altogether.

Irregular Comparatives

The following are adjectives that, when used in comparative form, can employ a whole new word instead of simply placing the adverb más in front.

Adjective Definition Comparative Form Definition
bueno/a good mejor/es better
malo/a bad peor/es worse
grande big mayor/es bigger
pequeño/a small menor/es smaller
viejo/a old mayor/es older
joven young menor/es younger

Note that, except in a few idiomatic expressions, it is uncommon to say más bueno/a or más malo/a in Spanish. Mejor and peor are frequently used in these instances.

However, for the words mayor and menor, which have 2 meanings, it is okay and common to clarify and/or say más grande (bigger), más pequeño/a (smaller), más viejo/a (older), and más joven (younger). These words are always able to be expressed in regular and irregular fashion.

Plural Comparatives

As written in the chart, these irregular comparatives have plural forms. These are employed when the comparative describes plural nouns.

Alicia y Carla son mayores que Felipe. Alicia and Carla are older than Felipe.

Felipe es menor que Alicia y Carla. Felipe is younger than Alicia and Carla.

Las papas fritas son mejores que la ensalada. French fries are better than salad.

La ensalada es peor que las papas fritas. Salad is worse than french fries.

scales

Irregular Superlatives

The irregular superlatives concern the same adjectives we just talked about. Like the comparative forms, some must employ a whole new word and others can use the new word OR the regular form. Remember, the regular form uses a definite article (el, la, los, las) followed by más and the adjective. The irregular forms still employ el, la, los, las in front, but do not use the word más.

Adjective Definition Comparative Form Definition
bueno/a good el/la mejor, los/las mejores the best
malo/a bad el/la peor, los/las peores the worst
grande big el/la mayor, los/las mayores the biggest
pequeño/a small el/la menor, los/las menores the smallest
viejo/a old el/la mayor, los/las mayores the oldest
joven young el/la menor, los/las menores the youngest

Note that in superlative form, it is totally INCORRECT to say el/la/los/las más bueno/a/os/as or el/la/los/las más malo/a/os/as in Spanish. El/la/los/las mejor/es and el/la/los/las peor/es MUST be used in these instances.

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