Whether it’s ice cream, or movies, or hanging out with friends, there are so many things that we like in life. Therefore it’s essential to be able to talk about them in Spanish. This article will guide you through the special grammatical construction when using the verb “gustar” as well as other verbs that follow the same formula!
In English, the object normally does the “liking” to the subject. For example:
I like ice cream.
In Spanish, however, the sentence structure is changed so that the subject affects the object. This structure, when translated into English, sounds more like this:
The ice cream is pleasing to me.
In this way, the verb gustar must be conjugated to agree with the subject (ice cream) and the subject is represented by the indirect object pronoun (me).
Me gusta el helado. → I like ice cream.
(Literal Translation: The ice cream is pleasing to me)
Here is a quick review of indirect object pronouns in Spanish.
If we to change the subject to a plural noun, such as “cats” for example, the verb gustar would have to be conjugated to agree.
Me gustan los gatos. → I like cats.
(Literal Translation: Cats are pleasing to me.)
If the subject of the sentence is an action (a verb), it is always left in the base form and gustar is conjugated in the 3rd person singular.
Me gusta bailar. → I like to dance.
There are several verbs that function in the same way as gustar. Here is a list of the most common with sentence examples of each.
aburrir→ to bore (to be boring)
Ex. A los estudiantes, les aburre la maestra. → The teacher is boring to the students.
caer bien/mal → to like/not like (personality, character)
Ex. Me cae mal tu amigo. → I don’t like your friend. (his character/personality)
dar + miedo/pena/rabia/asco/risa/vergüenza → to be scary, shameful, angry, gross, funny, embarrassing
Ex. Al niño, le da miedo la película. → The movie is scary to the boy.
doler → to hurt
Ex. A la señora, le duele la rodilla. → The woman’s knee hurts.
encantar → to love (something)
Ex. Me encanta tu camiseta. → I love your shirt.
enojar → to anger
Ex. Le enojan las mentiras. → Lies make her angry.
faltar → to be missing
Ex. Le falta azucar. → It’s missing/it needs more sugar.
fascinar → to fascinate
Ex. Nos fascina el ballet folklórico. → The Folkloric Ballet fascinates us.
hacer feliz/triste → to make happy/sad
Ex. A mi abuelo, le hace feliz bailar. → Dancing makes my Grandpa happy.
importar → to be important
Ex. Les importan los derechos humanos. → Human rights are important to them.
impresionar → to impress
Ex. Te impresiona el arte moderno. → Modern art impresses you.
interesar → to interest
Ex. ¿Os interesa ir a Africa? → Are you guys interested in going to Africa?
molestar → to bother/annoy
Ex. Me molesta el tráfico. → Traffic annoys me.
parecer bien/mal → it seems good/bad
Ex. ¿Te parece bien el plan? → Does the plan seem good to you?
preocupar → to worry
Ex. A mi mamá, le preocupa todo. → Everything worries my mom.
poner triste/feliz → to make happy/sad
Ex. Me pone triste verte llorar. → It makes me sad to see you cry.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of the special way in which gustar is conjugated you are able to use a vast array of similarly functioning new verbs in Spanish!