Tan Vs. Tanto: Your Guide On How To Use These Spanish Modifiers

Tan Vs. Tanto: Your Guide On How To Use These Spanish Modifiers

One of the best ways to learn Spanish is to listen to people speaking and using it in daily conversation.

If you’ve been lucky enough to travel to a region with a lot of Spanish speakers, or just watched a lot of Spanish movies, you might have heard the words “tan” and “tanto” used in conversation.

“Tan” and “tanto” are very useful Spanish words to know as they are commonly used by native Spanish speakers, but they can also be a little confusing for beginner Spanish learners 

Both tan and tanto are words that are used when you want to make a comparison between two objects, persons, and things. You can also use it to compare thoughts or actions.

When you use either “tan” or “tanto” you are saying that the two things you are comparing are equal to some extent. They are both known as “modifiers” which means that they say something about another word or phrase in a sentence.

Tan And Tanto: Modifiers

Both “tan” and “tanto” are modifiers, they are an adverb and an adjective respectively. A modifier is a word or phrase which modifies another word in the sentence. The easiest way to explain this is, the adverb or adjective describes something.

For example, “red” is often used as an adjective. It describes a color, so if you place it in front of a noun like a ball, it describes the ball. You have a red ball. 

“Fast” on the other hand, is an adverb. It describes an action, so if you place it in front of a verb like walk or run, you describe the action. So, “fast run” or “fast walk”.

“Tan”, is an adverb, so you will use it to modify a verb or an adjective or even another adverb. “Tanto”, on the other hand, is an adjective. Let’s look a little deeper into these individual words and their usage.

Tan: An Adverb

Tan, as we mentioned is an adverb, it translates to “so” or “so much”. It is commonly used if you want to describe feeling something “a lot”.

So, a Spanish speaker who wants to say they are “so tired” will use the phrase “tan cansado”. 

It can also be used to make comparisons, in which case, it’s similar to the English word “as”.

So, if for example, you want to say the teenage son of your friend is now as tall as their father, you can use the phrase “tan alto” or “as tall”.

How To Use “Tan” To Make A Comparison

When deciding whether to use “tan” to make a comparison, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do the two people/objects/animals share a quality?

2. Do they do something the same way?

If the answer to either of these questions is, yes, then you should use “tan”.

Here are some examples:

Spanish: Fely es tan guapa como Maria. 

English: Fely is as pretty as Juana.

As you can see, you are comparing two people (Fely and Maria), who have a similar quality (they are pretty).

Spanish: Los vasos son tan caros como los tenedores

English: The glasses are as expensive as the forks. 

“Tan” is used here because you are saying that two objects (the glasses and the forks) share the same quality, of being expensive. 

Take note, that, “tan” is also often used paired with the word “como”, which in this case is the equivalent to the English adverb “as”. The word sequence is “tan”, then the adjective or adverb, then “como”.

How To Use “Tan” To Denote Inequality

Another common way that “tan” can be used is if you want to compare two people, objects, or thoughts that are not equal in some way.

In this case, you need to add a “no” before the tan.

Let’s go back to the “vasos” and the “tenedores”. If you want to say that the glasses are not as expensive as the forks it is:

Los vasos no son tan caros como los tenedores.

Here are a few other examples of how you can use “tan” to say things are not equal.

Spanish: La cerveza no es tan caro como el vino.

English: The beer is not as expensive as the wine.

Spanish: Esta casa no es tan grande como sus vecinos.

English: This house is not as big as the neighbors.

Spanish: Pedro no andar tan lentamente como Hank. 

English: Pedro doesn’t walk as slowly as Hank.

Using “Tan” To Make a Deduction or Affirmation

You can also use “tan” with an adverb and the word “que” which is the equivalent to the English word “that”.

When tan is used in this sequence, you are making a deduction about or affirming something about someone or something.

Here are examples of how to use “tan” in this manner:

Spanish: Jon es tan inteligente que se abburee en clase.

English: John is so intelligent that he gets bored in class.

Spanish: La casa es tan caro que nadie lo quiere comprar.

English: That house is so expensive that no one wants to buy it.

Tanto: An Adjective

Tanto is an adjective, which means that it is a part of speech that tells you more about a noun. So, it describes a noun. 

Tanto is an adjective used to express the idea of quantity. It translates to “as much” or “as many” in English. 

As an adjective, “tanto” is used to describe a person, place, object, or idea. Take note, however, while English adjectives usually come before the noun, while Spanish adjectives go after them. 

Let’s go back to the example of the “red ball”. “Red” is the adjective that describes the object, the “ball”. In Spanish, however, it would be “bola roja”, the adjective “rojo” comes after the object “bola”.

So, if you want to use “tanto” properly to describe an object, make sure you remember to place it after the object.

“Tanto” is most commonly used if you want to say that two things are similar or have the same qualities or quantities. Here are a few examples of sentences that use “tanto”.

Spanish: Ganas tanto dinero como Pablo

English: You earn as much money as Pablo

Spanish: Como tanta vegatales como conejo 

English: I eat as much vegetables as a rabbit.

Spanish: Tenemos tantos coches como Fernando.

English: We have as many cars as Pedro.

Spanish: Quieren tantas coches como sus vecinos. 

English: They want as many cars as their neighbors.

What Are The Proper Forms of “Tanto”?

Spanish adjectives are gendered. This means that you use different variations of the adjective depending on the gender of the noun you are trying to describe. Whether the noun is singular or plural comes into play.

Here are the different forms of “tanto”

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

Like “tan”, “tanto” is often paired with “como”. 

You can also say that a noun is not “equal” to another by adding “no” before tanto.

Tanto Como: How To Use “Tanto” To Compare Verbs 

Another way that Spanish-speakers might use “tanto” is when they want to compare verbs or actions.

It can be used if you want to say that two people are performing an action in the same way or with equal intensity.

In these cases, what is used is the phrase “tanto como”

For example, you want to say that Pedro and Juan are both big eaters, so in English you would say:

Pedro eats as much as Juan.

In Spanish, this would become:

Pedro come tanto como Pedro.

How To Use “Tanto’ To Say “Doing The Same Thing”

If you want to talk about two people or animals who both do something, you can place “tanto” in front of the first noun, then a “como” and the other noun.

So, the effect is that subjects A and B both perform a certain action or are in a comparable state.

Here are a few examples

Spanish: Tanto Grace como Andy son muy felices.

English: Both Grace and Andy son muy felices.

Spanish: Tanto el plato como el tenador costaron 20 dólares.

English: Both the plate and the fork cost $20.

Using “Tanto” To Talk About Cause And Effect

Another way that you might hear tanto and its variants used is if someone wants to make a “cause and effect statement”. 

If the object being described as “so much/so many” cause something else to happen, you place the appropriate form of “tantos” before the noun and follow it with a “que”.

Here is an example:

Spanish: Comio tanto pizza que se puso enfermo

English: He ate so much pizza he got sick.

Conclusion

As you can see, both “tan” and “tanto” are very useful modifiers to know in Spanish. We hope that the rules of usage that we laid out here can help you determine when best to use what.

If you want to dive deeper into Spanish modifiers and other vocabulary, try the language learning app Babbel+. It is a very fun and convenient way to bring language learning wherever you go. - Try it here

If you want something more in-depth, there's a great Spanish course on Coursera that covers everything from the basics to more advanced topics. And if you prefer learning with a personal touch, Lingoda offers classes with native speakers that can really help you practice speaking.

How To Use “Tan” To Make A Comparison?

When deciding whether to use “tan” to make a comparison, you need to ask yourself the following questions: 1. Do the two people/objects/animals share a quality? 2. Do they do something the same way? If the answer to either of these questions is, yes, then you should use “tan”. Here are some examples: Spanish: Fely es tan guapa como Maria. English: Fely is as pretty as Juana. As you can see, you are comparing two people (Fely and Maria), who have a similar quality (they are pretty). Spanish: Los vasos son tan caros como los tenedores English: The glasses are as expensive as the forks. “Tan” is used here because you are saying that two objects (the glasses and the forks) share the same quality, of being expensive. Take note, that, “tan” is also often used paired with the word “como”, which in this case is the equivalent to the English adverb “as”. The word sequence is “tan”, then the adjective or adverb, then “como”.

How To Use “Tan” To Denote Inequality?

Another common way that “tan” can be used is if you want to compare two people, objects, or thoughts that are not equal in some way. In this case, you need to add a “no” before the tan. Let’s go back to the “vasos” and the “tenedores”. If you want to say that the glasses are not as expensive as the forks it is: Los vasos no son tan caros como los tenedores. Here are a few other examples of how you can use “tan” to say things are not equal. Spanish: La cerveza no es tan caro como el vino. English: The beer is not as expensive as the wine. Spanish: Esta casa no es tan grande como sus vecinos. English: This house is not as big as the neighbors. Spanish: Pedro no andar tan lentamente como Hank. English: Pedro doesn’t walk as slowly as Hank.

Releated Articles

April 17, 2024
What is the Easiest Language to Learn?
April 17, 2024
What is the best app for learning a language?
April 17, 2024
How to Say Hi in Spanish? Your Guide to Spanish Greetings

Daily learning tips directly in your inbox