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”.
|To me||is pleasing||the book|
|The book is pleasing to me|
To phrase another way, when you want to say the equivalent of:
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.
|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”)
|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 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.
- I like to work at home.
- They like study at night.
- We don’t like the party.
- Does Juan like the books?
- María likes to dance.
- We like dogs! (perros = dogs)
- I like cats. (gatos = cats)
- You don’t like to travel? (tú form)
- Me gusta trabajar en casa.
- Les gusta estudiar por la noche.
- No nos gusta la fiesta.
- ¿A Juan le gustan los libros?
- A María le gusta bailar.
- ¡Nos gustan los perros!
- Me gustan los gatos.
- ¿No te gusta viajar?