Irregular superlatives: adjectives that turn into new words

Reminder: in a comparison, to express a characteristic to its maximum degree, we normally use a definite article Artículos definidos + (noun) + más/menos + adjective + de.

Es el coche más reciente de esa marca.

It is the most recent car from that brand.

Ella es la más inteligente de la familia.

She is the most intelligent in the family.

The adjectives bueno (good) and malo (bad) don't follow this rule, but become new words:

  • We don't say el más bueno but el mejor/óptimo for “the best”.

Magda es la mejor empleada del hotel.

Magda is the best employee in the hotel.

Magda es una empleada óptima.

Magda is a top employee

  • We don't say el más malo but el peor/pésimo for “the worst”.

El doctor Macías es el peor médico de Madrid.

Doctor Macías is the worst doctor in Madrid.

El doctor Macías es un médico pésimo.

Doctor Macías is an awful doctor.

The adjectives grande (large) and pequeño (small) have several forms:

  • To talk about size, we generally use el más grande/pequeño (the largest/smallest).

Esta es la casa más grande del barrio / Esta es la casa más pequeña del barrio.

This is the biggest house in the area/This is the smallest house in the area.

  • To talk about age, we generally use el mayor/menor (the oldest/youngest).

Soy la mayor de la familia / Soy la menor de la familia.

I'm the oldest in the family/I'm the youngest in the family.

  • To indicate a characteristic to its maximum or minimum extent, we use el máximo/mínimo (the maximum/minimum, the most/least).

La altura máxima del túnel es de cuatro metros.

The maximum height of the tunnel is four meters.

En ese país, la edad mínima para votar es 18 años.

In this country, the minimum voting age is 18 years.

Note: with the adjectives mejor (better), peor (worse) and mayor (greater, older), we use this structure: definite article + mejor/peor/mayor + (noun) + de.

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