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How to write and use the prefix super in Spanish

Let's start this lesson with a little quiz. Do you know how to write superhero in Spanish? Choose one of the following:

 

a. Super héroe

b. Superhéroe

c. Súper héroe

d. Súperheroe

 

If you don't know the answer, this lesson will help you to find out which one is the proper spelling.

 

The meaning of the prefix super in Spanish

 

When it works as a prefix, the word super has different meanings. Sometimes, it means 'above' like in the word superestructura (superstructure). It can also mean 'excellence' or 'superiority':

 

¿Con el superagente, Jaime Suárez?

With the super-agent, Jaime Suarez?

Caption 53, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 13

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In some words, the prefix super expresses the 'highest degree' of something: 

 

Eh... La iglesia es superhermosa.

Um... The church is super beautiful.

Caption 14, Bogotá Una visita a la ciudad

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And finally, the prefix super can also indicate the 'excess' of something:

 

Ehm... Tenemos la... la... la... la... la superpoblación,

Um... We have (the... the... the... the... the) overpopulation,

Caption 50, Los médicos explican Entrevista con el Doctor Suarez

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The meaning of the word súper (with an accent)

 

Have you ever seen the word súper with an accent? If you think that súper is the same as super (with no accent), you are wrong. The word súper needs the accent only in the following situations:

 

1. When it is used as a noun for the short form of the word supermercado (supermarket) or the type of gasoline:

 

Roberto fue al súper a comprar naranjas.

Roberto went to the supermarket to buy oranges. 

 

2. When it works as an adjective or adverb to express that someone or something is/was great:

 

Súper, y ¿qué le dijeron de Gastón Almanza?

Super, and what did they tell you about Gaston Almanza?

Caption 20, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 8

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The simplest thing to remember here is that the prefix super doesn't have a graphic accent.

 

How to write words that use the prefix super in Spanish

 

Believe it or not, there are many native Spanish speakers who don't know how to properly write words that are formed with the prefix super. The main rule, however, is quite simple: When writing, the prefix super should be connected to the word that follows. With that simple rule, we can answer the question we posed at the beggining of this lesson:

 

Y tengo de superhéroe lo que Juanes de vallenato

And I've got from a superhero what Juanes [has] from vallenato

Caption 30, Juanes La Plata

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However, every rule has its exception and this rule has the following one:

 

Super followed by a hyphen

 

When the word that follows super starts with a capital letter or when this prefix is followed by a number, you need to add a hyphen:

 

super-Obama or super-10

 

Super separated by the word that follows it

 

You need to leave a space after super when it goes before a series of words that have their own meaning:

 

Yo siempre me he sentido super a gusto cantando al lado de ese grandísimo músico...

I have always felt pretty at home singing along this great musician...

Caption 50, David Bisbal Haciendo Premonición Live - Part 5

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That's it for today. We invite you to write 10 words with the prefix super. And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

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