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Gustar (and verbs like it)

En España, hoy es domingo el 19 de noviembre de 2017.

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2010-09-15 – © Baldo Partners: Hector Cantú & Carlos Castellanos; Universal UClick

There is no direct equivalence for the English verb “to like.” Instead, Spanish uses a structure which translates to something like “to be pleasing to.” This turns things around from our English perspective. Instead of saying “I like pizza” (where “I” is the subject of the verb), in Spanish one says Pizza is pleasing to me. This means that the thing which is liked becomes the subject of the verb, and the person who likes it, becomes the indirect object of the verb.

  • Pizza is pleasing to me: La pizza me gusta.
  • Apples are pleasing to me: Las manzanas me gustan.

Notice that in the second example above, “apples”, or manzanas is plural, and so the verb gustar is in the plural gustan.

The me in both examples is the indirect object pronoun and means “to me.”

If you wanted to say something like “Pizza is pleasing to them”, you would need to use a different indirect object pronoun. For reference, here is a list of the options:

Person Singular Plural
First me (to me) nos (to us)
Second te (to you, fam.) os (to y’all, fam.)
Third le (to him/her/it) les (to them)

So, to say “Pizza is pleasing to them” you would say:

  • La pizza les gusta.

This isn’t very difficult, but there is one thing which might be confusing and cause you to forget that it is the thing which is liked that is the subject of the verb gustar. For whatever reason, in Spanish, when using gustar and verbs like it, most native speakers put the subject–the thing which is pleasing–after the verb. So while the examples above are grammatically correct, and wouldn’t really raise any eyebrows, most native speakers would say these sentences in the following ways:

  • Me gusta la pizza.
  • Me gustan las manzanas.
  • Les gusta la pizza.

Other common verbs which function similarly to gustar are:

  • encantar (to be enchanting to)
  • fascinar (to be fascinating to)
  • chocar (to be repulsive to)
  • disgustar (to be disgusting to)

See the following examples:

  • Me encanta la pizza. (Pizza enchants me, or, I love pizza!)
  • Nos fascinan los deportes. (Sports fascinate us.)
  • Le chocan las verduras. (Vegetables are repulsive to him, or, He hates vegetables.)
  • ¿Te disgustan las anchoas? (Are anchovies disgusting to you?, or, Do you hate anchovies?)

Here are some more examples of the use of gustar and verbs like it:


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