"Más/menos que" or "más/menos de"?

"Más/menos que" or "más/menos de"?


If you've seen my post on comparisons in Spanish, you are familiar with más que or menos que to express "more than" or "less than".
If you do, you must have wondered why do we sometimes use más de or menos de.

Let's explain when we use de instead of que, but I also recommend you go back to this other post where I explain how to compare things that are equivalent using tan and tanto and variations, to say things are as much as something else.

Let's jump into the post then:

Más que / menos que

This is the one we use as default,as explained in the first post I linked. When we use these we could find three categories:

Comparing actions (verbs)

Él limpia más que tú - he cleans more than you
Él se preocupa más que tú - He worries more than you (remember verbs don't have to sound very "active" to be verbs)

Comparing amounts of something (a noun)

Nosotros servimos más comida que ellos -We serve more food than them.

Comparing qualities or states (adjectives)

Ella es más detallista que yo - She's more detail-oriented than me.

Let's see when this default changes now.

Más de / menos de

We use de instead of que when have an unit of measurement of any kind, a number, an amount...

Ellos tienen más de cien pájaros - They have more than a hundred birds.

Corremos más de 10 kilómetros cada mañana - We run more than 10km each morning.

Intento dormir más de 7 horas al día - I try to sleep more than 7 hours a day.

Necesitas tener menos de 200 de nivel de colesterol - You need to have less than 200 in the colesterol levels.

Tenemos menos de una hora para salir - We have less than an hour to leave/ before we leave.

Another important combo we have is the following:

... than usual

We can say "more than usual" or "less than usual" using más de lo normal or menos de lo normal.

We use de because "lo normal", or "lo habitual" (both mean "the usual") refers to "the usual amount", which is still that, an amount.

Hoy estamos más elegantes de lo normal - Today we are/look more elegant than usual.

Estás menos habladora de lo habitual - You're less talkative than usual.

than expected, than necessary...

Instead of "the usual" it could be "the expected" (lo esperado), "the essential" (lo esencial) or others. Let's see some common ones:

Al final tuvimos más tiempo de lo esperado - In the end we had more time than the expected / what we expected.

No llevo más de lo esencial a este viaje - I don't bring more than the essential to this trip.

Ella trabaja menos de lo mínimo - She works less than the minimum.

No deberías preocuparte más de lo necesario - You shouldn't worry more than the necessary.

Más de lo que / menos de lo que ...

We still use the de if we have a lo que + sentence afterwards (the lo que would translate as "what").

We can create very similar sentences than the previous (what was expected/necessary...) but in this case we have a conjugated verb.

Esperamos más de lo que esperábamos - We waited for longer than we expected. (Yes, esperar means to wait and expect, and hope!)

And of course, the options now are a lot more because with that conjugated verb we can have different tenses and a second subject.

Julia sabe mucho menos de lo que piensas - Julia knows a lot less than what you think.

Vosotros trabajáis más de lo que vuestros jefes piden - You guys work more than what your bosses ask for.

Vendimos menos de lo que ella quería - We sold less than what she wanted.

Viajan más de lo que nosotros nunca viajaremos - They travel more than we ever will.

I hope with these three post you can get an idea of how we compare things in spanish, and like with everything else, take your time!

¡Hasta pronto!