Tan v Tanto – Master Comparisons of Equality in Spanish

In everyday conversation you often want to compare objects and people, so this is one of the important parts of speech to learn when studying a foreign language.

In Spanish, two key words you need to know how to use are “tan” (so/as) and “tanto” (so much).

In this blog post you will learn how to use these words to compare things and people easily in Spanish.

Use “Tan” with adjectives/adverbs when things are equal

You would need to use “tan” with either an adjective or adverb to say that they have the same quality or do something in the same way.

Along with “tan” in this type of comparison you also need the word “como” (as).

The simplest way to remember how to make this comparison is as follows:

tan + adjective/adverb + como

Let’s look at some examples using adjectives:

La falda es tan bonita como el vestido.
The skirt is as pretty as the dress.

El niño es tan alto como la niña.
The boy is as tall as the girl.

Las fresas son tan baratas como las uvas.
The strawberries are as cheap as the grapes.

Los helados son tan ricos como las tartas.
The ice-creams are as delicious as the cakes.

Also notes that the adjectives have to agree with the object or person that they are describing.

Here are some examples using adverbs:

Juan corre tan rápidamente como Ana.
Juan runs as quickly as Ana.

Carmen habla inglés tan bien como Jorge.
Carmen speaks English as well as Jorge.

Pedro cocina tan mal como su padre.
Pedro cooks as badly as his Dad.

“Tanto” compares Nouns

If you want to compare nouns then you would use “tanto”. You also have to remember to make the ending agree with whatever you are describing:

Tanto – for masculine, singular nouns
Tanta – for feminine, singular nouns
Tantos – for masculine, plural nouns
Tantas – for feminine, plural nouns

Use the following structure when comparing nouns:

tanto/a/os/as + noun + como

Let’s look at some examples of this type of comparison:

Felipe come tantas galletas como Pilar.
Felipe eats as many biscuits as Pilar.

Yo cometo tantos errores como tú.
I make as many mistakes as you.

Ella tiene tantas tareas como él.
She has as many tasks as him.

María bebe tanto té como su madre.
Maria drinks as much tea as her mother.

“Tanto como” – compares verbs

If you want to say that two people do something in the same way you can just use “tanto como” together.

You would use this sequence:

Verb + tanto/como + verb/noun

Let’s see some examples:

Paco sale tanto como José.
Paco goes out as much as José.

Yo leo tanto como tú.
I read as much as you.

Su padre trabaja tanto como su madre.
Her Dad works as much as her Mum.

Mi amigo duerme tanto como yo.
My friend sleeps as much as me.

Here, “tanto” is not working as an adjective therefore you do not make it agree. It stays as “tanto”.

As you can see from the above examples, these short words “tan” and “tanto” are really useful for making comparisons in Spanish that you can learn to use easily in everyday conversation.

Just remember, “tan” never changes and is used with adjectives mainly whereas “tanto” is the one that needs to change ending to agree with the noun that comes after it.

Why not start practising and start making up your own comparative sentences to really get to grips with “tan” and “tanto”.

Also read this blog post for more ways to make comparisons in Spanish:
“How to Make Comparisons in Spanish”.

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