21.2 acima, de cima, acima de, em cima de, para cima

To describe an inferior position or a mouvement, in space or metaphorically there are three adverbs in Portuguese: debaixo, embaixo, abaixo, see 21.2.3. To describe a superior position there is only one adverb: acima.

Acima is an adverb and the opposite of abaixo, it is therefore absolute, it doesn't describe the position of an object in relationship to another object. (relativ: The book is under the table. <=> absolute: Come down.) It can be combined with oder adverbs to describe more complex relationships in space.

acima (above) is the opposite of abaixo (below)
Estacionou o carro mais acima.
I parked the car further above.
Vou lá acima buscá-las.
I go up to get them.
Vamos lá acima.
Let's go up.
O copo não está meio vazio, está meio cheio e a nossa ambição é enchê-lo até acima.
The glass is not half empty, it is half full and it is our ambition to fill it completley.

Acima de, with de, is a preposition and describes the relationship in space between two objects but can be used as well in metaphorical sense. It is the opposite of debaixo de, embaixo de.

acima de unter, unterhalb
Ela está acima de qualquer suspeita.
She is above any suspicion.
O evento foi acima de nossas expectativas.
The event exceeded our expectations.
O castelo está situado acima da cidade.
The castle is above the city.
Minha avó mora três andares acima do meu.
My grandmother lives three floors above mine.

Em cima, in opposite to embaixo, that is written with one word in Brasil, is written separately in Brasil as well as in Portugal.

Em cima as an adverb
Eles ficaram lá em cima.
They remained up there.

As a preposition em cima as well as em baixo / embaixo is followed by de and can be combined with other prepositions.

em cima de
O livro está em cima da mesa.
The book is on the table.
para cima.
O cão saltou para cima da cadeira.
The dog jumped on the chair.

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21.2 comparison of adverbes and adjectives

In a sentence like "This car is more expensive than this one" we compare the intensity of a property between two objects. This is called comparative. In a sentence like "This is the most expensive car of all" we compare the intensity of a property between one object an all other elements of the group this object belongs to. (In our case the cars.)

(It is possible as well to compare the intensity of two properties in one object, "He is more cunning than intelligent", but this is something completely different.)

The comparative can describe a higher intensity, a lower intensity or an equal intensity.

comparative adverbe
superiority: John runs fast. Peter runs faster than John.
inferiority: Peter doesn't run as fast as John.
equality: Peter runs as fast as John.
comparative adjective
superiority: This chair is heavy. This chair is more heavy than that one.
inferiority: This chair is not as heavy as that one.
equality: This chair is as heavy as that one.

Most grammar books only mention the superlative that describes the superiority of one element compared to all other elements of the group. However it is clear that the intensity of a property of one object can be inferior compared to all other elementes of the group, "This tool is the less suited for this purpose", and it is as well possible that the intensity is the same in all members of the group. It is true that only the comparative / superlative of superiority has its own form, for instance more / most + adjective / adverb in case of synthetical formation. This is the reason why only the comparative / superlative of superiority is mentioned in grammar books, because only these forms have an own grammatical form, but it is clear that in real live we have inferiority and equality as well.

superlative adverbe
superiority: He eats the most.
inferiority: He eats the less.*
equality: He eats as much as the others.

* In this case it can questioned whether it expresses inferiority. We can as well say that this sentence expresses a high intensity and therefore superiority. It is kind of a reversed superiority. However the one who its the less is the exact opposite of the one who eats the most and therefore this author would say it is a superlative of inferiority.

superlative adjective
superiority: It is the most labourious work of all.
inferiority:It is the less laborious work of all.
equality: This work is as laborious than the others.

The formation of the comparative and the superlative is identical for the adjective and the adverb and, apart from some exceptions we are going to talk about soon, is realised in an analytical way, in other words with mais. (synthetical: good => better => best / analytical: beautiful => more beautiful => the most beautiful)

The comparative of superiority is realised mit mais (more), the comparative of inferiority with menos (less) the comparativ of equality with tão. The element with which one compares is connected with (do) que. Do can be left out, if an object is followed by a pronoun. (Pay attention to the fact that the superlative, see below, connects the group with de.)

comparative adverb
superiority: Fala lentamente. Fala mais lentamente que ele.
She speaks slower than he.
inferiority: Fala menos lentamente que ele.
She speaks less slow than he.
equality: Fala tão lentamente como ele. *
She speaks as slow as he.

* In case of equality the comparison article is tão.

comparative adjective
superiority: Um movimento lento. Um movimento mais lento do que pensei.
A mouvement slower than I thought.
inferiority: Um movimento menos lento do que pensei.*
A mouvement less slow than I thought.
equality: Um movimento tão lento como pensei.
A mouvement as slow as I thought.

* If there is verb, do que is compulsory.

The superlative of superiority / inferiority and equality have the same structure. They are formed with menos / mais + de + article. Actually the superlative of equality has the same structuren, only the de is left out. The comparison article for the superlative is de and not que. See examples below.

Superlativ Adjektiv
superiority: Rodrigo é o mais preguiçoso de todos os alunos.
Rodrigo is the laziest of all students.
inferiority: Paulo é o menos preguiçoso de todos os alunos.
Rodrigo is the less lazy of all students.
equality: Rodrigo é tão preguiçoso como os outros alunos.
Rodrigo is as lazy as all other students.

It can be discussed whether a superlative of equality actually exists. Superlativ and equality is a contradiction in itself. However first the name superlative is wrong, because we just compare one element of a group to all other elements and the comparative of equality compares one element with another and the superlative of equality one element with all the other elements of a group. This author doesn't see really why a superlative of equality shouldn't exist. Beside that: In real live it exists, it is as simple. Very often we make sentences like "He is as poor as everybody living there".

Superlative as an adverb: The article has to agree in gender and number with the subject of the sentence. The english structure is different. A literal translation leads to strange results, but facilitates the understanding of the portuguese construction.

subject verb in the corresponding form corresponding article particle of comparison type of comparison verb in the corresponding form group
Victor é o que mais fala de todos nós.
Victor is the who most speaks of us.
Juliette é a que mais fala de todos nós.
Juliette is the who most speaks of us.
Jeanine e Solange são as que mais falam de todos nós.
Jeanine e Solange are the who most speak of us.
Eu sou o quemenoscorrede todos.
I am the who less speak of us.

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