6 The verb GUSTAR: “to like”

A different kind of verb

The verb “gustar” is another -ar ending verb, but it conjugates differently than regular verbs in that it doesn’t use the conjugation pattern “-o, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an” in the expected manner. This is because the verb “gustar” literally means “to be pleasing” to someone. So instead of having a direct translation for “I like the book”, the structure in Spanish would be “to me is pleasing the book”, which of course sounds strange in English; perhaps less so if we said “the book is pleasing to me”.

Me gusta el libro
To me is pleasing the book
The book is pleasing to me

To phrase another way, when you want to say the equivalent of:

Someone likes something

The sentence structure in Spanish will look like this:

To someone is pleasing something

For practical purposes, there are two verb endings of “gustar”:

gusta:for one thing or an action (verb) that someone likes to do

gustan: for two or more things that someone likes

Examples with GUSTAR

Let’s compare literal translations and how it more likely would be expressed in English. In the following examples, the singular form “gusta” is used because a verb follows.

Me gusta nadar (verb)
To me is pleasing to swim
I like to swim

(Note: in English the verb after “like” is often expressed in the “-ing” form: “swimming”)

Another example:

Te gusta mirar televisión (verb)
To you is pleasing to watch TV
You like to watch TV.

The singular form “gusta” is also used when we like just one thing:

Les gusta su clase de español (1 class)
To them is pleasing their Spanish class
They like their Spanish class.

Again, “gusta” because a reference is made to just one university:

Nos gusta la universidad (1 university)
To us is pleasing the university
We like the university.

However, when what we like is plural—in this case “classes”—then the plural form “gustan” is used:

Me gustan todas mis clases (classes, plural)
To me are pleasing all of my classes
I like all of my classes.

Below, plural “gustan” is used because the reference is made to Mondays in general. Also, notice the position of “no” appearing before the pronoun “le” to negate an idea.

No le gustan los lunes (Mondays, plural)
To her are not pleasing Mondays
She doesn’t like Mondays.

And again, the plural form “gustan” is used because the reference is to “mountains”:

¿Te gustan las montañas? (plural mountains)
To you are pleasing the mountains?
Do you like the mountains?

If a person’s name is used then we need to add “a” (to) in front of the person’s name because we are expressing “something is pleasing to John”. The pronoun “le” is still used:

A John le gusta trabajar en la mañana.
To John is pleasing to work in the morning
John likes to work in the morning.

The same idea (adding “a”) applies when we refer to someone by their title:

A la profesora le gusta enseñar
To the professor is pleasing to teach
The professor likes to teach.

The following table summarizes what we need “to express likes” in Spanish:


Indirect object pronouns I.Obj. prounouns (Spanish) gustar ending: 1 thing or verb gustar ending: two or more things How it really sounds in English:
to me me gusta gustan I like
to you te gusta gustan you like (tú)
to him le gusta gustan he likes
to her le gusta gustan she likes
to you le gusta gustan you like (Ud.)
to us nos gusta gustan we like
to you
os gusta gustan you like
to them (m) les gusta gustan they like
to them (f) les gusta gustan they like (f)
to you (pl) les gusta gustan you like (Uds.)

¿Cómo se dice…?:

Try to express theses sentences in Spanish before looking at the answers that follow.

  1. I like to work at home.
  2. They like study at night.
  3. We don’t like the party.
  4. Does Juan like the books?
  5. María likes to dance.
  6. We like dogs! (perros = dogs)
  7. I like cats. (gatos = cats)
  8. You don’t like to travel? (tú form)


  1. Me gusta trabajar en casa.
  2. Les gusta estudiar por la noche.
  3. No nos gusta la fiesta.
  4. ¿A Juan le gustan los libros?
  5. A María le gusta bailar.
  6. ¡Nos gustan los perros!
  7. Me gustan los gatos.
  8. ¿No te gusta viajar?


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First Year Spanish 1 Copyright © 2019 by Paul Eckhardt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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