Spanish Grammar Guide

Gustar and similar verbs  (e.g.: me gustan los perros)

An Overview of Gustar and Similar Verbs:

The most common way to say "like" in Spanish is to use the verb gustar. When using this verb, however, it is important to keep in mind that the verb's ending depends on the subject that follows, not the pronoun that precedes it. For example:

  • I like French movies. = Me gustan las películas francesas.
  • He likes you. = Le gustas tú.
  • We don't like exams. = No nos gustan los exámenes.

In the previous examples you can see that gustan agrees with las películasgustas agrees withand gustan agrees with los exámenes, all of which follow the verbThe me, le and nos pronouns represent the objects (NOT subjects), so that Me gustan las películas francesas literally means "French movies please me," i.e. the subject of the verb is French movies/las películas and the me pronoun refers to who is affected by the movies.

A good tip is to remember that the most common forms of gustar (and similar verbs) are the 3rd person gusta and gustan.

How to Form Phrases with Gustar and Similar Verbs

Remember that the subject of gustar and similar verbs usually appears after the verb and determines the ending on the verb. The person who is being affected (the object) is represented by the pronoun that occurs immediately BEFORE the verb. The pronouns used with gustar and similar verbs are the same as the indirect object pronouns and are shown in the following table of examples:

Object Phrase Object Pronoun Example gustar phrase
a mí me (A mí) Me gusta bailar.
a ti te (A ti) Te gustan los dulces.
a él/a ella/a usted le (A usted) Le gusta el vino tinto.  
a nosotros nos (A nosotros) Nos gusta estudiar español. 
a vosotros os (A vosotros) Os gusta viajar. 
a ellos/a ellas/a ustedes les (A ellos) Les gustan las flores.

As can be seen in the previous table, the subject of gustar can be an infinitive verb, in which case the verb is conjugated in the 3rd person singular gusta.

Note also that in addition to the object pronoun which is grammatically REQUIRED, you can also optionally include an object phrase to emphasize or clarify who it is that likes something. The object phrase is most commonly seen in the 3rd person to disambiguate who is being affected, but can also be used for emphasis in the 1st and 2nd person. The object phrase must start with the word a (i.e. the personal a) and it must agree with the object pronoun (i.e. refer to the same person), e.g.:

  • A su madre le gustan los perros. ("Her mother likes dogs.")
  • A mí me gusta la pelicula. ("I like the film.")
  • ¿A ti te gusta andar en el centro de la ciudad? ("Do you like being in the center of the city?")

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  • Note that the object phrase a mí has an accent but a ti does not.
  • Do not use yo or  as subjects of the verb gustar unless you want to indicate that you are pleasing to someone else, e.g.: Yo le gusto. = "She likes me./I please her." Tú me gustas mucho. = "I like you alot./You please me alot."

Verbs Similar to Gustar

The following verbs behave in the same way as gustar:

aburrir ("to bore")
caer bien/mal ("to suit/not suit")
dar asco ("to sicken")
disgustar ("to hate")
doler ("to hurt")
encantar ("to charm/delight")
faltar ("to be missing/in need")
fascinar ("to fascinate")
importar ("to be important")
interesar ("to interest")
molestar ("to annoy")
parecer ("to seem")
picar ("to itch")
quedar ("to remain/be left over")
 
Here are a few example phrases of the previous verbs:
  • (A mí) me duele mucho la espalda hoy.
  • (A nosotros) nos cae mal la maestra.
  • ¿(A vosotros) os parece bien ir a la playa?
  • A usted le fascina el arte.
  • A ellos les faltan unas piezas para su carro.
  • A Susana le encanta el chocolate.
  • (A ti) te disgustan mucho las clases de cálculo.
  • No le gusta nada la historia a mi hermano.
It is possible to rearrange these phrases by moving the subject to the beginning or the a phrase to the end, with the effect of emphasizing different parts of the sentences, as seen in the following examples:
  • Correr no le gusta mucho a Juan.
  • Los plátanos te encantan a ti.
  • Me molesta tanto el periódico a mí.
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If gustar, importar, disgustar (those verbs that express an opinion) are followed by the conjunction que, you must use the subjunctive in the following phrase, e.g.:
  • Le molesta mucho a mi padre que vayan ahí sin permiso.
  • A ustedes les importa que sus hijos estudien las lenguas extranjeras.
  • Nos disgusta que ganen los políticos corruptos.
Conjugación verbal:
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