Creating comparative and superlative expressions in Spanish is very similar to creating them in English. The biggest difference is a predictable one: treating Spanish adjectives like Spanish adjectives, meaning they are still placed after the noun and they still need to agree in gender and number with the nouns they describe. Perhaps the other thing to note is that Spanish does not have suffixes like -er and -est. To express a superlative, one must state it the long way, i.e. “I am the most smart,” rather than “I am the smartest.” Similarly, one must say “I am more smart,” instead of “I am smarter” for comparative statements.
Many students find it helpful to think of the comparative and the superlative as formulas. Students should construct the rest of the sentence as they’ve learned, but the comparative and superlative parts are below.
Spanish Comparative Adjective Construction
más or menos
Spanish Superlative Adjective Construction
el la (noun) los las
más or menos
Much like English, there are some adjectives that aren’t so simply turned into comparative or superlative forms. They are exceptions. For example, in English it is incorrect to say “Winter is badder than summer”; instead it is correct to say “worse.” Similarly, Spanish has exceptions. They are found in the chart below.
Spanish Comparative and Superlative Adjectives Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers
In learning to use Spanish adjectives in the superlative, students will need to practice the formula as well as practice attending to adjective agreement. Have students select the spider map storyboard template and place their chosen persona in the middle.
The model storyboard of this activity for example uses “the most egotistical man in the world” as its central character. From there, each connected cell illustrates a facet of the chosen persona using superlative statements. Students should have fun with their choices! The examples used in the model storyboard are:
“I am the most handsome” “I have the most daring friends”
“My house is the best” “This man is the least generous”
Students should complete at least four cells, but you may want them to have more. You may also want to consider whether or not students are using the four exceptions of mejor, peor, mayor, and menor, examples of más and menos, or if their cell examples will be limited to basic adjectives and only the use of más. To reinforce the superlative structure, have students change the color or capitalize the words involved in expressing the superlative. Further challenges can be introduced by asking students to vary their sentence structure and verb use.
Once students have learned the basic formula for comparative statements, they can practice it using the following storyboard design. While comparative statements in Spanish are very similar in structure to English ones, students typically require some repetition of application before they feel comfortable with it. As demonstrated, have students create a T-chart storyboard where they are comparing two things across a row. One column can be titled “more ___ than” in Spanish while the other is titled “less ___ than”.
For each row, students will pick two things to compare, illustrate each, and in the description boxes below the cells, they will write their comparative statements, once as a “more ___ than” expression, and the second time reversing it to be written as a “less ___ than” statement. This storyboard exercise will also help students strengthen the habit of checking their adjective agreement, since in switching their sentences around to a “less ___ than,” the adjective may need to be changed to agree with what is now stated first in the sentence. As an added visual, students may want to use the mathematical inequality symbols between the columns.
If students are practicing Spanish comparisons for the first time, you may want to have them use only regular adjectives to begin. As they advance, you can have students use the exceptions and/or new adjectives that they research themselves. Students should have fun with their statements and the illustrative cells! They should complete at least 3-4 rows of examples.
Have students create a grid storyboard in which they have four columns and two rows. One row will have comparative examples that demonstrate adjective agreement within the comparative formula; the other row will do the same for superlative examples. Each column should be set up to target examples of masculine singular, masculine plural, feminine singular, and feminine plural nouns and adjectives. Within each cell students will include an illustrative example of their sentence according to the column and row specifications. In the model storyboard given, only examples of feminine singular and masculine plural have been completed. It may be helpful for students to color code the adjectives with the nouns that they are modifying in each sentence. As students first begin, you may want them to avoid using adjectives that don’t change for gender, such as interesante.
In this storyboard exercise, students will practice their use of the four comparative and superlative exceptions. As can be seen in the model storyboard, having students create a column of cells demonstrating how not to use the exceptions can be helpful in ultimately understanding how to use them correctly. Often students try to pair “more” with “better,” for example, rather than seeing that “better” will be used alone.
For this activity, have students use the grid template. They will have four rows, one for each exception, and at least three, possibly four, columns. The first column is to demonstrate the common error. You may want to have two error columns if you want students to demonstrate these errors for comparative and superlative in each instance. If not, just have students alternate whether the errors are in comparative or in superlative constructions. Be sure to have students make it obvious that these columns include incorrect grammar, at least in part by having them include the English translations for the incorrect sentences. In the model storyboard, the English word focused on for the incorrect example has been highlighted. This may or may not be used with your students depending on how you specify grid setup.
The next column will be for properly used comparatives, and the last column for properly used superlatives. In each cell students will write original sentences using the specified exception and a comparative or superlative construction. For reinforcement, have students capitalize the section of the sentence that is comparative or superlative.