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Episode 95: Superlatives! Part 2

In Part 2 of our dive into Superlatives, we're going to focus on Absolute Superlatives. You know, saying that someone is "super cool" or "very smart" by using those fantastic -ísimos! They are one of my favorite Spanish constructs. :D Not to mention our final Cultural Tip on Paraguay, where we go over three interesting and unique Paraguayan customs! ¡Empecemos!


Quick Review

If you haven't yet listened to Part 1 (Episode 94), I highly recommend that you start with that episode first. For those of you who already have, here is just a quick review.

  • A superlative is when you want to say that something or someone is the best in a group or that it/he/she has the highest level of whatever characteristic or quality you are describing. So when you say that your dog is the cutest dog in the world, you are using a superlative to describe her cuteness. Or if you want to say that your brother is not only funny, but hilarious, you are using superlative to convey that he is extremely funny.

  • A relative superlative is when you make a direct comparison between your subject and someone or something else. This is where you use words like best, slowest, smartest, worst, etc. There are two types of relative superlative:

    • Regular: this one uses the basic formula Subject + Ser + Definite Article (+ Noun) + Más or Menos + Adjective (+ Group). Some examples: He is the tallest in his peer group. Él es el más alto de su grupo de pares. That desk is the smallest in the classroom. Ese escritorio es el más pequeño del salón de clases.

    • Irregular: this one uses the superlative adjective formula Subject + Ser + Definite Article + Superlative. Some examples: My sister is the youngest in her family. Mi hermana es la menor de su familia. I am the eldest in my family. Soy el mayor de mi familia.

What is an Absolute Superlative?

And now we get to the heart of today's episode! The key to these superlatives is that they are NOT a direct comparison of the subject to anyone or anything else. They are used to highlight the extreme amount of skill or very high level of a quality or characteristic that someone has. And in Spanish, they do this with their famous -ísimos, such as buenísimo, fresquísimo, or calentísimo.

The basic formula for creating these absolute superlatives is:

Subject + Verb + Adjective + ísimo/a

While there are spelling rules for adding the -ísimo, and we will get to those in a minute, the general rule is that if the adjective ends in a consonant, you just add -ísimo after it. If it ends in a vowel, simply remove the last vowel and add the -isimo. Please note that because the -ísimo modifies the adjective, it will need to match the noun in quantity and gender. Some examples:

My mom has such big shoes. Mi madre tiene unos zapatos grandísimos.

His brother is really stupid. Su hermano es estupidísimo.

Those girls are super tall. Esas chicas son altísimas.

That test was sooooo easy! ¡Esa prueba fue facilísima!

The stove is very hot! ¡La estufa está calentísima!*

*Note how it is not calientísima, but calentísima. This falls under "irregular stems", which we will cover in a minute.

Spelling Rules

There are a variety of adjective endings, however, that change how the -ísimo gets added. Let's take a look!

Adjectives with -ble Endings

For these, you remove the -ble and add -bilísimo. Here are some examples:

  • Amable (polite, kind, nice) - amabilísimo

  • Miserable (miserable, unhappy) - miserabilísimo

  • Estable (stable) - estabilísimo

Adjectives with -n, -dor, and -or Endings

For these, you add -císimo. Some examples:

  • Joven (young) - jovencísimo

  • Hablador (talkative) - habladorcísimo

  • Inferior (inferior) - inferiorcísimo

  • Superior (superior) - superiorcísimo

Adjectives with -re or -ro Endings

For these, you remove the -re or -ro ending and add -érrimo. Some examples:

  • Acre (acrid, offensive) - acérrimo

  • Misero (wretched, absolutely miserable) - misérrimo

  • Salubre (healthy) - salubérrimo

Adjectives with -co or -ca Endings

For these, you remove the -co or -ca ending and add -quísimo. I think this is to help maintain the proper sound, as normally in Spanish adding an -i after "c" would make the "c" soft, pronounced like an "s". Here are some examples:

  • Rico (rich, delicious) - riquísimo

  • Poco (small) - poquísimo

  • Fresco (fresh, cool) - fresquísimo

  • Blanco (white)- blanquísimo

Adjectives with -go or -ga Endings

For these, you remove the -go or -ga ending and add -guísimo. I think this is to help maintain the proper sound, as normally in Spanish adding an -i after "g" would make the "g" pronounced like "h", as in "hello". Here are some examples:

  • Largo (large) - larguísimo

  • Amargo (bitter) - amarguísimo

Adjectives with -z Endings

For these, you change the -z to a "c" and add ísimo. For example:

  • Feliz (happy) - felicísimo

  • Tenaz (tenacious) - tenacísimo

Adjectives with Irregular Stems

  • Fuerte (strong) - fortísimo

  • Sabio (wise) - sapientísimo

  • Fiel (faithful, loyal) - fidelísimo

  • Nuevo (new) - novísimo

  • Caliente (hot) - calentísimo

  • Pobre (poor) - paupérrimo

  • Ardiente (burning hot, passionate, ardent) - ardentísimo

  • Antiguo (ancient) - antiquísimo

  • Amplio (spacious, ample) - amplísimo

  • Cruel (cruel) - crudelísimo

  • Cursi (corny) - cursilísimo

  • Sagrado (sacred) - sacratísimo

*One final rule to take note of, no matter where the accent mark normally goes on the adjective, one converted to -ísimo, the accent goes on the -ísimo (or -érrimo, depending on the spelling ruels).

Christmas Alert!

As we enjoy the Christmas season, my family and I have been enjoying the daily enjoyment of advent calendars. We have one that we do as a family at night, with the names of Jesus and little treats for the kids. But me and my daughter also do three advents from Homeschool Languages that focus on language and culture (Christmas related, of course!) for Spanish, German, and French. Right now they have it on sale, but if you spread the word and send them a photo, they will send the PDFs to you for free. I already have all three, so please don´t think this announcement is for that. I already have them. But I wanted to share it with you, because I truly enjoy using these with my daughter (my son is too little to care). And since you listen to this podcast, you probably love learning about other cultures and traditions as much as I do! :)

We used the Spanish and German ones for the first time last year and I loved learning about the different traditions, doing the crafts, and learning the Bible verse and Christmas songs, that we are doing them again this year. They just released the French one for 2023, and I am so excited to add that to the morning advent! :D I am really hoping they release an advent in Italian, as we have their Italian Level 1 box for my daughter and I think she would love it!

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season. The next two episodes will be in celebration of Christmas, with a focus on Christmas songs and Christmas traditions in Bolivia and Chile! What about you? Do you have any fun or exciting Christmas traditions? Let me know at!

See you soon!

Remember, learning a language is a lifelong journey.

¡Aprovéchalo, Disfrútalo y Compártelo!


Cultural Tip: Paraguay

Unique Traditions

As part of our final look at Paraguay, let's look at three unique and cool Paraguayan traditions! (This will be our last Cultural Tip of the year, as the next two episodes are cultural tips in and of themselves.)

1. La Danza de la Botella

This is one of Paraguay's best known traditional dance, "The Bottle Dance". Where does it come from? Unsure. One theory is that it stems from the women bringing water to farmers in times past. Another that it comes from another traditional Paraguayan dance, the galopa. After seeing a video of a galopera dancing with a flower vase on her head, I can definitely see the veracity in that claim.

Bottom line, it is an impressive dance where women will dance with glass bottles on their heads. They move around and even lie down on the ground, then get back up, all without dropping a single one (and often they can have 4 or 5 stacked bottles. This one gal on Spain's Got Talent had 10!). The very last bottle they put on their head has a flag representing the Paraguayan flag. It is such a strange, amazing dance!

2. Tereré

You cannot talk about Paraguay without talking about the Guaraní people. How to pick and choose which guaraní customs to talk about? I figured, with my love of tea, what better way to start than with Paragua´s unique version of yerba mate? We´ve discussed this unique style of tea before when doing a cultural dive into Argentina (see Episode 57), including the ronda de mate (where you pass the mate around among friends, drinking from a gourd with a specially designed straw known as la bombilla).

Paraguay includes fruits and herbs in their version, such as mint and boldo, but they also drink it cold, calling it tereré. And instead of a gourd, they traditionally drink tereré out of a bull´s horn, una guampa. I found a recipe for making tereré here!

3. Pastel Mandi’o (Yuca Empanada)

This is Paraguay's twist on the empanada. Interestingly enough, empanadas were brought to Latin America via the Spanish, but they themselves got the dish from Muslim conquerors. Although they call it a pastel in Paraguay, it is not a cake. It is indeed an empanada, but made with cassava (a.k.a. yuca) and corn flour. As you may have guessed by the name, it also stems from Guaraní culture. :D

I´ve found two different recipes you can try! They both use yuca puree. It takes some time, so I probably won't be able to make this anytime soon. But if you do, please let me know how it turns out!

  • This recipe from Comidas Parguayas is in Spanish.

  • This recipe from Camila Made is in English.


Estrella de Esperanza

Vamos a celebrar el comienzo de la Navidad con la cuenta del origen, el nacimiento de Jesús.

Lucas 1:26-38

"(26) Al sexto mes el ángel Gabriel fue enviado por Dios a una ciudad de Galilea, llamada Nazaret, (27) a una virgen desposada con un varón que se llamaba José, de la casa de David; y el nombre de la virgen era María. (28) Y entrando el ángel en donde ella estaba, dijo: ¡Salve, muy favorecida! El Señor es contigo; bendita tú entre las mujeres. (29) Mas ella, cuando le vio, se turbó por sus palabras, y pensaba qué salutación sería esta. (30) Entonces el ángel le dijo: María, no temas, porque has hallado gracia delante de Dios. (31) Y ahora, concebirás en tu vientre, y darás a luz un hijo, y llamarás su nombre JESÚS. (32) Este será grande, y será llamado Hijo del Altísimo; y el Señor Dios le dará el trono de David su padre; (33) y reinará sobre la casa de Jacob para siempre, y su reino no tendrá fin. (34) Entonces María dijo al ángel: ¿Cómo será esto? pues no conozco varón. (35) Respondiendo el ángel, le dijo: El Espíritu Santo vendrá sobre ti, y el poder del Altísimo te cubrirá con su sombra; por lo cual también el Santo Ser que nacerá, será llamado Hijo de Dios. (36) Y he aquí tu parienta Elisabet, ella también ha concebido hijo en su vejez; y este es el sexto mes para ella, la que llamaban estéril; (37) porque nada hay imposible para Dios. (38) Entonces María dijo: He aquí la sierva del Señor; hágase conmigo conforme a tu palabra. Y el ángel se fue de su presencia."



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Intro and Closing Music by Master_Service from Fiverr

Cultural Tip Transition Music edited from song by JuliusH from Pixabay

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