When Superlatives Fail: Exaggerating in Spanish
Spanish speakers love to exaggerate. What to non-Spanish speakers may seem an excessive way to talk to the Spanish-speaking mind simply adds a bit more emphasis. Not only can you compare things, but you also have a way to express an exaggerated state of things.
To exaggerate a quality, you add -ísimo (ee-see-moh) or -ísima (ee-see-mah) to an adjective or an adverb. For example, to say that something good, bueno (bvooeh-noh), is exceptionally so, you say buenísimo (bvooeh-nee-see-moh).
Here are some examples:
La película es buenísima. (lah peh-lee-koo-lah ehs bvooeh-nee-see-mah) (The film is exceptionally good.)
La ciudad es grandísima. (lah seeoo-dahd ehs grahn-dee-see-mah grahn-dee-see-mah) (The city is huge.)
Los perros son bravísimos. (los peh-rrohs sohn bvrah-bvee-see-mohs) (The dogs are extremely fierce.)
El hotel es malísimo. (ehl oh-tehl ehs mah-lee-see-moh) (The hotel is really bad.)
El postre está dulcísimo. (ehl pohs-treh ehs-tah dool-see-see-moh) (The dessert is sickeningly sweet.)
Los colores son vivísimos. (losh koh-loh-rehs sohn bvee-bvee-see-mohs) (The colors are exceedingly bright.)
El bus andaba lentísimo. (ehl bvoos ahn-dah-bvah lehn-tee-see-moh) (The bus advanced extremely slowly.)
La tienda cobraba carísimo. (lah teeehn-dah koh-bvrah-bvah kah-ree-see-moh) (The shop was exorbitantly expensive.)Credit: Corbis Digital Stock
Exaggeration is something you see everywhere, even in classical Spanish poetry. For example, Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas (frahn-sees-koh deh keh-bveh-doh ee bvee-yeh-gahs), the Spanish poet of the Golden Century (who lived from 1580–1645), says in his poem A una nariz (ah oo-nah nah-rees) (To a nose) to a person with a very large one, muchísima nariz (moo-chee-see-mah nah-reehs) (a whole lotta nose).