Better than, or the best? How to use comparative and superlative adjectives
The Spanish language has an expression that says “las comparaciones son odiosas” (comparisons are obnoxious), but what would Spanish really be if comparisons didn’t exist?
Imagine a situation where Lucia, an intense F.C. Barcelona fan, and Pedro, who hasn’t missed a single game from his home team, Real Madrid, spend an evening together in a restaurant. Can you imagine what the topic of conversation will be:
Lucia: Are you trying to tell me that you think Ramos is better than Piqué? (Lucía: ¿Me estás diciendo que Ramos te parece mejor defensa que Piqué?)
Pedro: Yes of course! Are you forgetting that he scores more goals than him? (Pedro: ¡Hombre, claro! ¡Se te olvida que mete más goles que él!)
Lucia: I’m sorry! But I don’t think that is a good argument. Ramos is less elegant playing football than Piqué. (Lucía: ¡Perdona, perdona! Pero no me parece una buena argumentación. Ramos tiene menos elegancia que Piqué en el juego).
Pedro: Oh come on! (Pedro: ¡Venga por favor!)
Leaving the Spanish “Clásico” to the side, we could say that the same emphasis and the strength would also put my passionate love for the Cádiz Club de Fútbol in those moments when talking about our team or our coach in his imminent ascend to first division, as demonstrated daily on Twitter:
“I proceed to dedicate a new poem every day this year to the best coach (“al mejor entrenador") in the history of the world” (@cabesafdez)
Although, let’s move on from the football theme and take it to a more familiar place for the readers. These structures are surprisingly the basic instrument that allows the students in class to unburden themselves with ease (and allows us, the teachers, to be their punching bag):
Fabio: Oh my god! Subjunctive is really hard! (dificilísimo!)
Chen Dong: In my opinion, ‘ser/estar’ is what is the most difficult (el más complicado). I will never use it correctly!
Katherina: Well the different in past tenses for me is the worst (el peor).
Teacher: Ok, ok... let’s not be negative... don’t complain so much!
We cannot end this list of examples without mentioning the so-called stereotyped comparisons in Spanish. These are phraseological units that maintain their grammatical structure (comparative particles) although with possible modifications in the term of the comparison, and that are accepted and consolidated in the Spanish-speaking community. They are normally inserted in the colloquial record and are a great example of the individual's metaphorical ability to express ideas and impressions.
In this way, we all agree with that acquaintance who speaks more than a parrot ("speak a lot"), which we avoid or try to get rid of; Or we have the friend who is crazier than a goat ("más loco que una cabra") and who is capable of creating such crazy situations that he makes his friends go through a lot of shame and turn redder than a tomato (más rojos que un tomate).
In conclusion, comparative sentences and the use of the superlative forms are both integrated in the discussion, due to their descriptive functionality and valuation of people, objects, and events.
Author: María de los Ángeles Guerrero