The verb gustar is one of the Spanish verbs that students usually learn at the very beginning of their course. Nevertheless, its use can be tricky. Take a look at El Rincón del Tándem Spanish School blog to avoid any mistakes ?
Gustar belongs to the basic Spanish vocabulary and it is frequently used in any context and circumstances. Despite people who study Spanish get familiar with it as soon as they start learning the language, they usually make some mistakes when forming sentences with this verb.
In fact, when using gustar, the structure we use is different than those we use in other languages like English.
We can observe the English structure in this simple sentence: “I like apple pie”. In this sentence the subject is the person that feels while the object (apple pie) that is liked is the direct object.
In Spanish we form sentences with gustar in a different way. So, the elements that the sentence is composed of are:
1. Indirect Object = the person who like something or someone
2. The verb GUSTAR = to like
3. Subject = the object, person, activity or situation that generate the feeling in the indirect object and that is liked by him/her.
> Me gusta la comida saludable = I like healthy food
Comida saludable/Subject – Gusta/Verb – Me/Indirect Object
> ¿Te gustan mis zapatos nuevos? = Do you like my new shoes?
Mis zapatos nuevos/Subject – Gustan/Verb – Te/Indirect Object
> A Celia le gusta el cine japonés = Celia likes Japanese film
El cine japonés/Subject – Gusta/Verb – A Celia le/Indirect object
The form of the verb depends on the number of the noun that follows it (that is, the subject of the sentence). For instance, if we like “coffee” (singular) we will conjugate the verb in the singular form: gusta, 3rd person singular. If we like “flowers” (plural) we use the verb in the plural form: gustan, 3rd person plural.
However, when the thing that is liked is an activity expressed by a verb in the infinitive, we always use the verb gustar in the 3rd singular form.
> Me gusta cantar= I like to sing
Cantar/Subject – Gusta/Verb
> A Paco le gusta nadar= Paco likes to swim
Nadar/Subject – Gusta/Verb
Besides, when what is liked is a person, we keep using the same structure as above. Likewise, we conjugate the verb accordingly to the number of person or personal pronoun.
> Me gustas tú = I like you
Being YOU the subject, the verb is conjugated in the 2nd person singular.
> Yo le gusto a Beatriz = Beatriz likes me
YO is the subject, so the verb is in the 1st person singular
> A Maya le gustamos nosotras = Maya likes us
The verb is in the 1st person plural as the subject is NOSOTRAS.
The only slight difference we notice when it comes to using the Spanish verb gustar with persons is that, we can also find the verb in the 1st and 2nd person (not only in the 3rd person, like in the case of object and activities).
In a sentence with the Spanish verb gustar, the indirect object can be expressed twice. Like in the sentence:
A mí me gusta la tarta de zanahoria
In this case the indirect object is expressed by both the phrase “A mi” and the indirect object pronoun “me”.
Normally, double indirect object is used in Spanish to emphasise the message or to express opposite views.
Nevertheless, in this kind of sentences it is possible to omit the phrase “a mi”. So, the sentence “Me gusta la tarta de zanhaoria” is still grammatically correct.
On the contrary, we cannot omit the pronoun, leaving only the phrase to express the indirect object. In this case, the sentence “A mi gusta la tarta de zanahoria” is WRONG.
Finally, we follow the same structure as gustar when using other Spanish verbs, like: encantar (to love, to please), interesar (to interest), preocupar (to worry), molestar (to bother), parecer (to seem), etc.
Me encanta la cerveza belga = I love Belgian beer
A Pilar le interesa la historia contemporánea = Pilar is interested in contemporary history
A mi hermana le molesta el ruido del tráfico = The traffic noise bothers my sister
We really hope our post on the Spanish verb gustar will help you express properly what you like and don’t like in Spanish ?
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