Igual is one of the most common words in Spanish. We use it on its own to express similarity, comparison or equalness. Many important idiomatic expressions also use igual.
- Jenny’s dress is the same as mine. – El vestido de Jenny es igual al mío.
- I’m just as surprised as you. – Estoy igual de sorprendido que tú.
As you realize, the English equivalent of igual depends on the context. Usually, the translation of igual can be: as… as, equal, the same, anyway, maybe. But, don’t worry, let’s dive in! As you realize, the English equivalent of igual depends on the context.
Two Forms: Igual and Iguales
Before we get into the different uses of igual, let’s consider the word’s different forms. Whether used as a noun or an adjective, we modify its form to agree with the gender and number. With igual we have it easy, because it keeps the same form regardless of gender. We only need to be sure to match its form between singular and plural. The only two forms we use are igual and iguales.
- That house is just as big as mine. – Esa casa es igual de grande que la mía.
- Those boys are equal in appearance. – Esos chicos son iguales en apariencia.
We use equal in different contexts in English, and the same occurs in Spanish. Let’s see the contexts and situations we use igual as equal.
We use igual in Spanish just the same as in English where we say that one side of a mathematical equation equals the other. The equal sign (=) is called el signo igual. When we pronounce the math equation, we say es igual a meaning literally is equal to, in place of the English equals:
- 2 + 2 = 4 : Two plus two equals four. – Dos más dos es igual a cuatro.
- 5 – 4 = 1 : Five minus four equals one. – Cinco menos cuatro es igual a uno.
Comparisons related to the exact size or number
When we talk about values related to size and numbers, we want to express that there is an exact quantity.
- I can invest an amount equal to the previous year. Puedo invertir una cantidad igual al del año anterior.
Comparisons related to equality, rights, treatment
We are proud to live in a society that fights for equal rights for everyone. In this area, we use igual to share our ideas regarding this.
- All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. (George Orwell, Animal Farm) – Todos los animales son iguales, pero algunos animales son más iguales que otros. (George Orwell, Rebelión en la Granja)
- Boys and girls should be treated as equals. – Los chicos y las chicas deberían ser tratados como iguales.
Igual: The Same As, Just Like
Whereas in the previous section we used igual to describe exact equalness, here we’ll also just consider that igual can denote that the items we’re comparing are the same.
We generally use the verbs ser and estar to make this comparison, followed by a.
- Your haircut is the same as mine. – Tu corte de pelo es igual al mío.
- My problem is not the same as yours. – Mi problema no es igual al tuyo.
- My symptoms are the same as the flu. Either way, I will take a PCR test. – Mis síntomas son iguales a los de una gripe. Sin embargo, me haré un una PCR.
- My sister looks just like my mom. They have the same facial features. – Mi hermana es igual a mi mamá, tienen los mismos rasgos faciales.
- I’m living in apartament just like the one you had back in England. – Estoy viviendo en un apartamento igual al que tenías en Inglaterra.
Igual vs Mismo
Igual and mismo generally have the same meaning, which is to express that one thing has the same characteristics as another. Mismo is used as a pronoun however, whereas igual is used as an adjective. Mismo needs to change forms to agree with the gender and number (mismo/a(s)), and it always takes a definite article.
Take a look at these examples. Notice that using mismo we’re saying that something is the same. As opposed to the comparison using igual saying the same as.
- I love your cellphone! I have the same one but in black. – ¡Me encanta tu celular! Yo tengo el mismo pero en negro.
- Apparently, my husband and I have the same tastes. – Aparentemente, mi esposo y yo tenemos los mismos gustos.
- I had the same idea as Peter. – Tuve la misma idea de Peter.
- We have to follow the same rules of the previous game. – Tenemos que seguir las mismas reglas del juego anterior.
Igual: Probably, Perhaps, Maybe
Moving further from the exactness we started with in using igual to mean equal, in Spanish we can also use igual to introduce a measure of uncertainty. In English we can translate that with different words such as probably, likely, perhaps, or even maybe.
- I’ll probably go to my parents’ house tomorrow. – Igual voy a casa de mis padres mañana.
- Perhaps, that was not a good idea. – Igual no era una buena idea.
In addition to the various uses of igual by itself that we’ve just covered, several common phrases are formed around igual. Let’s take a look at these phrases.
Al igual que
We use this expression to compare two nouns regarding the quality or a characteristic in specific.
- My brother is as sad as me. – Mi hermano está triste al igual que yo.
- Like you, I’m surprised at this situation. – Al igual que tú, estoy sorprendido de esta situación.
Just like, Just as, As
This expression is the equivalent in English of just as.
- Los demás vehículos son igual de lujosos a este. – The other vehicles are just as luxurious as this one.
- Dicen que soy igual de terco que mi papá, pero no es cierto. – They say I’m just as stubborn as my dad, but it’s not true.
En igual de
Instead of, Rather than
En igual de is used to contrast two options, and is often used in suggestions.
- Rather than eating now, you should take a bath. – En igual de comer ahora, deberías bañarte.
- You should have said goodbye instead of leaving like that. – Debiste despedirte en igual de irte de esa manera.
- You can put more effort into your studies instead of quitting. – Puedes esforzarte más en tus estudios en igual de renunciar a la carrera.
We use por igual when we talk about actions among nouns.
- You and I must strive equally to achieve our goals. – Tú y yo debemos esforzarnos por igual para lograr los objetivos.
Without equal, No comparison
This phrase is used to describe something at the extreme end of a spectrum. There’s not always a straight English translation. The important point is that it’s a superlative.
- That concert was unparalleled, it was the best I have ever attended. – Ese concierto fue sin igual, es el mejor al que he asistido.
- Michael Phelps is an unrivaled athlete. He has won a total of 28 medals. – Michael Phelps es un atleta sin igual. Ha ganado un total de 28 medallas.
Ok, so technically, igualmente is a completely different word, but it’s obviously close enough that we should include it here. Igualmente is generally used as a one-word response to mirror whatever has just been said. The best English translation of igualmente is likewise, though sometimes you’ll just see it appear as too.
- Nice to meet you! / Nice to meet you too. – Nice to meet you! / Likewise. – ¡Un placer conocerte! / Igualmente.
- Have a good weekend! / Thanks, same to you. – ¡Que pasas un buen fin de semana! / Gracias, igualmente para ti.
In addition to the grammatical phrases we saw in the last section, there are several common idiomatic expressions which are also formed around igual.
Don’t mind, Don’t care, Whatever!
We use dar igual to express that we’re indifferent to something. This expression is very common when we’re trying to play it cool about something, even if we’re not entirely sincere when we use it. The best English expression to describe this is whatever!, where we say we don’t care even if we sort of do.
The construction of this expression relies on the direct object pronouns, and the verb dar conjugated in the right tense.
- I don’t care what you think. – Me da igual lo que pienses.
- I don’t mind that you couldn’t come to my party. – Me da igual que no puedas venir a mi fiesta.
- Susan didn’t care if she lost that football match. – A Susan le dió igual perder ese partido de fútbol.
- Didn’t Peter answer my calls? Whatever! – ¿Peter no me respondió las llamadas? ¡Me da igual!
Nada es igual
Nothing is the same
This expression is used to compare the present to the past.
- Nothing is the same at the office, everything has changed so much. – Nada es igual en la oficina, todo ha cambiado muchísimo.
Note that for similar comparisons of other timeframes, we don’t use igual:
- In the future, nothing will be as it was before. – En el futuro, nada será como antes.
- Nothing was as it had been described. – Nada fue como lo habían descrito.
De igual a igual
This expression describes how people relate to each other.
- They are talking to each other as equals. – Ellos se están hablando de igual a igual.
- After the match, the players and the fans from both teams all enjoyed beers together as equals. – Tras el partido, los jugadores y los aficionados de ambos equipos disfrutaron de unas cervezas de igual a igual.
Amor sin igual
Matchless love, Incomparable love
We already saw how sin igual is used to describe something that’s at the extreme end of a spectrum. So let’s end our list here with a common expression using this phrase to talk about love: amor sin igual. This sweet expression is used to talk about pure love, wherever it’s found:
- A mother’s love is matchless. – El amor de madre es un amor sin igual.
- God offers incomparable love. – Dios ofrece un amor sin igual.
Making comparisons is vital when we speak any language. In this post, we’ve shown how igual is one of those words we use the most often in Spanish when we say that things are equal, the same, or similar. We also saw additional uses for igual in grammatical phrases, as well as in several common expressions. Now you’re ready to make comparisons in Spanish using igual!
We hope you found this post as helpful as our other ones. Until next time! – Esperamos que haya encontrado esta publicación igual de útil como las otras. ¡Hasta la próxima vez!