Spanish grammar notes for

Spanish Grammar notes


I like healthy food. (Image: Wikipedia Creative Commons)The Spanish verb 'gustar' is very commonly used to express likes, interests and preferences. However, the construction of sentences expressing likes/dislikes in Spanish is very different from that used in English. If we had to translate gustar to English we would say 'to be pleasing' so instead of saying 'I like something' we would be saying 'Something is pleasing to me'. For this reason, the subject of the sentence will be the thing we like, and we ourselves will be the indirect object.

There are many other verbs that have the same construction as 'gustar' such as 'doler', 'faltar', 'encantar' and many more. In this lesson you'll learn to use he verb 'gustar', the indirect object pronouns and the use of prepositional phrases to emphasize or clarify the indirect object pronoun.

Me gusta la comida sana

After this lesson you'll be ready to talk about the things you like or enjoy and to ask about other people about their likes and dislikes.

Take a look at this example:

Me gusta el fútbol = I like football

Let's classify the words in each sentence:

Me gusta el fútbol: Me (indirect object pronoun for 'yo') gusta (verb) fútbol (subject).

I like football: I (subject) like (verb) football (direct object).

As you can see the way the sentences are created in Spanish is totally different from English.

These are the indirect object pronouns in Spanish:

  • (Yo) me
  • (Tú) te
  • (Él, Ella, Usted) le
  • (Nosotros) nos
  • (Vosotros) os
  • (Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes) les

They like sportsAfter choosing the right indirect object pronoun (according to the person that likes the thing) it is time to conjugate the verb.

When speaking about things we like, there are only two possibilities: 'gusta' or 'gustan'. This is because the verb is conjugated according to the subject, and the subject in this case is the thing we like, so we'll use the third person singular or plural depending on whether the thing that “is pleasing to us” is singular or plural.

A ellas les gusta correr

Check these examples:

  • Me gusta el fútbol = I like fútbol.
  • Nos gustan los helados = We like ice-cream.
  • ¿Os gusta el deporte? = Do you like sports?

Also, we sometimes use prepositional phrases in order to clarify who likes the thing (because, for instance, 'le' could refer to él, ella or usted).

These are the prepositional phrases you'll find in Spanish:

  • A mí
  • A tí
  • A él / ella / usted
  • A nosotros-as
  • A vosotros-as
  • A ellos/ellas/ustedes

Also, after the 'A' you could just mention the name of the person:

  • A mi madre
  • A Luis
  • A los estudiantes

Apart from clarifying the indirect object pronoun, it can also be used to emphasize the person that likes the thing.

There are other verbs that work the same way as 'gustar':

  • fascinar (to be fascinating). Me fascina esta obra de teatro.
  • encantar (to “love” something). Os encantan las películas de acción. ¿Cierto?
  • aburrir (to bore). A los estudiantes les aburre mucho la clase de matemáticas.
  • molestar (to bother). A mi hermana le molestan los mosquitos en verano.
  • doler (to hurt). Me duele la cabeza. Me duelen los oídos.
  • faltar (to lack something). A Pedro le falta su lapicera nueva.
  • volver loco (to drive crazy). A mis padres les vuelve loco la música pesada.
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