Verbs like "Gustar"

The topic of the verb gustar is first introduced in Fluencia in Level 1/Unit 4, and then we bring it back in greater detail in levels 2 and 6. This verb is is used to express likes and dislikes. However, it can be very tricky and confusing for many students because it does not function gramatically in the same way that the English verb "like" does. Keep reading to learn about how gustar functions in a sentence and see some examples, as well as opportunities for extra practice.

Starting With an Indirect Object Pronoun

In Spanish, there are two components to sentences talking about likes or dislikes. First you have an indirect object pronoun ( me, te, le, nos, les). That pronoun needs to correspond to the person or people that like or do not like something. So if you say, "The girl likes pizza." you would need to use le because le is the third person singular pronoun that corresponds to the third person singular chica (girl).

But since that le can be very ambiguous (could refer to he, she, it, or formal you) in Spanish, sometimes we want to clarify who le refers to. In order to do that, we need an indicator phrase that starts with a and then includes the person(s). In this case, that gives us "a la chica...".

If I wanted to say, "The boys like pizza.", I would need to start with " A los chicos les..." We have our clarification phrase at the beginning (A los chicos), and then we use the third person plural pronoun of les because we have more than one boy in this sentence.

We can start sentences for other people with clarifying phrases ( a nosotros nos, a mí me, a ti te), but these starter phrases are only used when we want to emphasize that something is REALLY liked or REALLY NOT liked. Otherwise they're unnecessarily repetitive because we know who nos, me, and te refer to, and you can therefore just start with the indirect object pronoun (nos, me or te).

Adding the Verb 

Singular gusta

Gustar will need to be conjugated so as to coincide with the object or person, singular or plural, that is being liked. If we use the above examples with "pizza", we will need to conjugate gustar in the third person singular, which gives us gusta, because "pizza" is a third person singular object.

So that would give us: 

A la chica le gusta la pizza.
The girl likes the pizza.
A los chicos les gusta la pizza.
The boys like the pizza.

Or: 

Me gusta la pizza.
I like the pizza.
Te gusta la pizza.
You like the pizza.
Nos gusta la pizza.
We like the pizza.

"Pizza" is still singular in all of these sentences, regardless of how many people like it, so gusta gets used in all sentences, not gustan or gustamos. If we want to talk about an action being liked (The girl likes to read.), we still use gusta because actions are always treated as singular.

Other Forms of gustar

If we want to talk about a plural object (or people) being liked, we will change to gustan to correspond with the plural object. So, "The girl likes cats." would be "A la chica le gustan los gatos." And, "The boys like cats." would be "A los chicos les gustan los gatos." Both sentences use gustan regardless of how many people are liking the cats because the objects being liked (the cats) are plural in both sentences.

You will, for the most part, just use gusta and gustan. There are some occasions when you will use gusto, gustas, or gustamos but only when people are being liked.

For example

Te gustamos.
You like us. This literally means "We are pleasing to you."
A ella le gusto.
She likes me. Literally: "I am pleasing to her."
¿Te gusto?
Do you like me? Literally: "Am I pleasing to you?"
Me gustas.
I like you. Literally: "You are pleasing to me."

You can make any of these sentences negative by just putting "no" in front of the pronoun.

No me gustas.
I don't like you.
A ella no le gusta pizza.
She doesn't like pizza.
No nos gusta nadar.
We don't like to swim.
No te gusta el chocolate.
You don't like the chocolate.

Other Verbs Like gustar

There are other Spanish verbs that function grammatically in the same way that gustar does. Fluencia covers this topic in Level 6/Unit 3, but here's a quick overview of some of the most popular verbs like this.

aburrir to bore
alegrar to gladden
apetecer to feel like
caer bien to like (specifically a person)
doler to hurt
encantar to delight
faltar to be lacking
fascinar to fascinate
importar to matter
interesar to interest
molestar to bother
parecer to appear to be
preocupar to worry

You can find the Fluencia lessons on gustar by clicking "Search" at the top of the page in Fluencia and searching for gustar. You can also find additional explanations and practice exercises here: https://www.spanishdict.com/guide/verbs-like-gustar

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