Using the Superlative in Spanish: Rules and Examples

¡Bienvenido a una nueva lección! Today’s lesson will cover the rules for using the superlative in Spanish. We will explore how to make comparisons using the superlative through several examples and will test your understanding of the rules with a short interactive quiz. Manos a la obra…

The superlative in Spanish rules and examples
El superlativo en español – Dibujos de Freepik.com

The basic rules for the superlative in Spanish: “El más…”

The relative superlative in Spanish is used to differentiate an object from a group by maximizing its qualities or minimizing them. It is very similar to their English version when saying things like “The most interesting” or “The happiest”. Here are some of the most important rules for the superlative in Spanish:

  1. We have to find a definite article (el, la, los, las) that agrees with the main noun in the sentence, e.g. “Paco es el más inteligente” (Paco is the most intelligent.)
  2. In Spanish, the word “MÁS” means both MORE and MOST. For this reason, it is possible to say Más bonito que” (more beautiful than) and “El más bonito” (the most beautiful)
  3. There is no need to add any termination to one or two-syllable adjectives like “ALTO”, e.g. “El más alto” (the tallest)
  4. Unlike English, it is very common to add a noun between the article “EL” and the adjective. You can also add the noun after the adjective, but it will sound too formal and would be more suitable for poetry, e.g. “El niño más creativo” (The most creative kid) and “El más creativo niño” (for a poem)

Examples of sentences using the superlative in Spanish

Fernando es el más alto de la clase.
Fernando is the highest in the class.
Alejandra es la más joven del grupo.
Alejandra is the youngest of the group.
China es el país más poblado del mundo.
China is the most populous country in the world.
Thiago es el bebé más hermoso del mundo.
Thiago is the most beautiful baby in the world.
Esta es la casa más bonita del barrio.
This is the most beautiful house in the neighborhood.
Él escribió algunos de los libros más famosos del siglo pasado.
He wrote some of the most famous books of the last century.
Lo más importante es terminar a tiempo.
The most important thing is to finish on time.
Este es el lugar menos apropiado para discutir ese problema.
This is the least appropriate place to discuss that issue.

The superlative in Spanish with the suffix –isimo

It is time to study the second form of the superlative: the absolute superlative in Spanish. In this case, something or someone has the best or the worst qualities without comparing it to any other group. When we want to emphasize something, we use adverbs like “muy” (very) to the sentence, for example: “Alan es muy inteligente”. In this example, we are not comparing Alan with anybody else but simply highlighting that he is very smart. As you can see, the structure sounds a lot similar to the one from English and it is easy to replicate.

Sometimes, instead of using any of the structures above you will hear people say things like “Ella es hermosísima” instead of “Ella es muy hermosa”. The word “hermosísima” comes from adding the suffix “-ísima(o)” to the adjective’s ending as a way to maximize the quality. The superlative in Spanish with –ísimo comes handy when talking about outstanding qualities or flaws in something or someone. Therefore, this structure may be more suitable for personal opinions. Notice that the suffix -ísimo will always need tilde on the first “i”. Please, take a look at these examples.

Él es rapidísimo para escribir.
He is very quick to write.
Ramiro es altísimo. Es tan alto como una jirafa.
Ramiro is very tall. He is as tall as a giraffe.
El huracán Irma fue fuertísimo.
Hurricane Irma was very strong.
¿Qué opinas de la clase de matemáticas? – Que está dificilísima.
What do you think about math class? – That is very difficult.

Grammar Quiz: The Superlative in Spanish

It is time to test your understanding of the rules for the superlative in Spanish. Read the instructions carefully and then solve the exercises. ¡Buena suerte!


Learn more with these other interesting lessons