Gustar

Gustar verbs are a set of verbs that are used with indirect object pronouns. If you are unfamiliar with object pronouns, you may want to check them out before this lesson by clicking here. They can be a little tricky because as English speakers, some of them are not translated very well. Take gustar for example. Often times it is translated as “to like”, but it would be more helpful grammatically to think of it as “to please” or “to be pleasing to”.

 Another way to think of it (and a grammatically poor way) is that you are conjugating the verb for what you like and using a different pronoun for yourself. These are the following pronouns you would use with verbs like gustar.

(to) me

me

(to) us

nos

(to) you

te

(to) you -plural

os

(to) him, her, you

le

(to) you -plural, (to) them

les

Let´s look at how expressing the same idea is grammatically different in English and Spanish.

Me gustan los libros. I like (the) books. Or The books please me.

In English, “I” is the subject, or the thing doing the action. “The books” are the object of the sentence, or the recipient of the action. This sentence structure gets turned upside down in Spanish and doesn’t work that way. The second English sentence “The books please me” is how the grammar works in Spanish. “I” is no longer the subject, but rather “the books” is the subject and you need to conjugate the verb for “the books” instead of “I”, and “I” becomes “me”.

Here are a few more examples.

Me gusta correr. Running pleases me. *(Idea – I like running.)

Nos gusta el cine. The movie theater pleases us.

Les gusta la comida italiana. Italian food pleases them.

 

Pay careful attention to your verb conjugations. It may seem backwards at first, but you will conjugate your verbs for whatever you like or is pleasing to you. You won’t say “me gusto el libro”. That doesn’t make sense. You would instead say “me gusta el libro”. It seems confusing because you are putting the subject at the end of the sentence for these types of verbs (“Me gusta el libro”, instead of “El libro me gusta”).

 

Clarifying third person

Look at the following sentence.

Le gusta bailar. Dancing is pleasing to him/her/it/you.
Me gusta comer. Eating is pleasing to me (I like  eating).

It is unclear who likes dancing. To clarify, just put the word a” + “whoever” before the indirect object pronouns. The chart below has the sentence above written for different people, with a” + “whoever”.

A mí me gusta bailar. A nosotros nos gusta bailar.
A ti te gusta bailar. A vosotros os gusta bailar.
A él, ella, Usted, José, María… le gusta bailar. A ellos, ellas, ustedes, José y María… les gusta bailar.

Here is how we could clarify the previous sentences.

A José, le gusta bailar. Dancing is pleasing to José (José like dancing).
A mí, me gusta comer. As for me, eating is pleasing to me (I like  eating).

Here is a list of verbs that work like Gustar:

aburrir – to bore
bastar – to have enough
doler – to hurt
encantar – to really like
faltar – to lack, to miss
fascinar – to fascinate
importar – to be important to, to matter to
interesar – to interest
molestar – to bother
quedar – to have remaining
sobrar – to have remaining/left over

Practice 1

 

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