Using [verb] + tan + [adjective/adverb] + que to say "so... that..."

In Spanish the structure:

[verb] + tan [adjective/adverb] + que [sentence] 

is used to express what in English would be:

[verb] + so [adjective/adverb] that [sentence]

Have a look and listen to the following examples:

El paciente está tan debil que necesita permanecer en el hospital.
The patient is so weak that he needs to stay in hospital.

El ordenador funciona tan lentamente que no puedo terminar el trabajo.
The computer is so slow that I can't finish my work.

Estos zapatos resultaron tan buenos que he comprado otro par igual.
These shoes were so good that I bought another identical pair.

Ese camión va tan rápido que va a salirse de la carretera.
That lorry is going so fast that it's going to go off the road.

This type of structure shows a cause, expressed in the first part of the sentence and an effect or consequence expressed after que.

This structure doesn't work when we invert the sentence, i.e first the consequence and then the cause:

Es tan guapo que siempre tiene admiradores alrededor.
He is so handsome that he always has admirers around him.
Que siempre tiene admiradores alrededor es tan guapo.

Be careful not to confuse this construction with the comparative structure: 
Tan [adjective/adverb] como...As [adjective/adverb] as...

Remember that  adjectives need to agree with what they are modifying: 

Su camisa está tan sucia que debe lavarse ya.
His shirt is so dirty that it must be washed straight away.

Estos chicos son tan altos que chocan con el techo.
These guys are so tall that they touch the ceiling.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

El ordenador funciona tan lentamente que no puedo terminar el trabajo.
The computer is so slow that I can't finish my work.


El paciente está tan debil que necesita permanecer en el hospital.
The patient is so weak that he needs to stay in hospital.


Estos zapatos resultaron tan buenos que he comprado otro par igual.
These shoes were so good that I bought another identical pair.


Ese camión va tan rápido que va a salirse de la carretera.
That lorry is going so fast that it's going to go off the road.


Q&A

Michael

Kwiziq community member

4 May 2018

2 replies

In the quiz sentence 'Cuando estés tan agobiado que no puedas relajarte, llámame.', can you explain the structure of this sentence.

'Cuando' triggers the subjunctive 'estés', is there a double trigger due to 'Cuando estés tan agobiado que' causing 'no puedas relajarte' where 'puedas' is in the subjunctive or is 'no puedas relajarte' just in the imperative?

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

4 May 2018

4/05/18

Hola Michael

The second part "no puedas relajarte" is also in the subjunctive because it is triggered by "que" (cuando estés tan agobiado que...). This part: "que no puedas relajarte" implies "that you may not be able to relax", therefore there is uncertainty. 

Does it clarify it for you? It is a complex structure.

Let us know if you have more doubts.

Gracias

Inma

Michael

Kwiziq community member

4 May 2018

4/05/18

Perfect explanation, thank you.  I understand the subjunctive in this case, but I hadn't seen this form of double trigger, with the subjunctive repeating in the same sentence.  The imperative didn't make sense to me.

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