by Patrick Jackson – LearningSpanishLikeCrazy
Let’s talk about a common mistake to avoid when comparing numbers in Spanish.
Recently, I took a taxi home from a “discoteca” (night club) here in Medellin, Colombia, along with a friend named Jim (not his real name) from “Nueva Zelandia” (New Zealand).
Jim has lived in Medellin for several years. And whenever he is in the mood, he tends to speak to me in Spanish. I told the “taxista” (cab driver) to drop Jim off first.
When we arrived at Jim’s home, Jim handed me a 20,000 Colombian pesos bill (about $10 U.S.) but the fare was less than 10,000 Colombian pesos (about $5 U.S.) to Jim’s home. And when he handed me the “billete” (bill) Jim said to me
“No tengo menos que 20.000 pesos.”
Did you notice Jim’s error? Well, that’s not how you say “I don’t have less than 20,0000 pesos.”
Although in Spanish, when comparing two things the English word “than” is normally translated to the Spanish word “que,” there is an exception . . .
When comparing numbers you must use “de” instead of “que.” For example:
“No tengo menos de 20.000 pesos.”
I don’t have less than 20,000 pesos. But:
“Esta película es más interesante que las otras.”
This movie is more interesting than the others.
By the way, in the sentence “no tengo menos de 20.000 pesos” did you notice that Spanish uses a period where we would use a comma in a number?
Spanish also uses a comma where we would use a period in a number. For example, English: 2.43 Spanish: 2,43