Gramática: El verbo gustar + sustantivos


  • Recognize the correct pronouns and correct forms of gustar to say what things you and others like and don’t like

In Unit 4 we saw how to say that I or you like to do something, using me/te gusta + infinitive. Of course, it’s possible to say that you like things, too, just a little more complicated.

The Spanish equivalent of “I like” is me gusta, which literally means “it pleases me”. To indicate whether someone else likes something, you change the indirect object pronoun so the thing is pleasing to that person:

forms for different people liking a singular thing

persona singular persona plural
primera (1a) Play Audiome gusta (I like) Play Audionos gusta (We like)
segunda (2a) Play Audiote gusta (You like) Play Audioos gusta (You all like)
tercera (3a) Play Audiole gusta (He/She likes) Play Audioles gusta (They like)

When you use the verb gustar, the verb form you choose will depend on whether what you like is a singular noun, a plural noun, or a verb.

The verb form gusta is always in the singular when the noun that is liked or disliked is singular, because *it* is pleasing to the person:

  • Play Audio(A mí) me gusta la casa.  (I like the house. Literally: The house pleases me.)
  • Play Audio(A ti) te gusta la salsa picante.  (You—informal singular—like hot sauce.)
  • Play Audio(A usted) le gusta la comida.  (You—formal singular—like the food.)
  • Play Audio(A él) le gusta el libro.  (He likes the book.)
  • Play Audio(A ellas) les gusta el coche.  (They like the car.)
  • Play Audio(A nosotros) nos gusta el café.  (We like coffee.)

What if plural things are pleasing to you? The verb form gustan is always in the plural when the noun is plural or there are two nouns, because *they* please the person:

  • Play Audio(A mí) me gustan las casas.  (I like the houses. Literally: The houses please me.)
  • Play Audio(A ti) te gustan las manzanas.  (You—informal singular—like the apples.)
  • Play Audio(A usted) le gustan las comidas.  (You—formal singular—like the foods.)
  • Play Audio(A él) le gustan los libros.  (He likes the books.)
  • Play Audio(A ellas) les gustan los coches.  (They like the cars.)
  • Play Audio(A nosotros) nos gustan los animales.  (We like animals.)

As we saw in Unit 4, the verb form gusta is always in the singular when it is followed by a verb, even if there are many verbs listed, because *it* pleases the person *to do* the actions:

  • Play Audio(A mí) me gusta cantar mucho.  (I like to sing a lot. Literally: It pleases me a lot to sing.)
  • Play Audio(A tí) te gusta recibir y escribir cartas.  (You–informal singular– like to receive and write letters.)
  • Play Audio(A usted) le gusta escuchar la música.  (You–formal singular– like to listen to music.)
  • Play Audio(A él) le gusta comer y bailar.  (He likes to eat and dance.)
  • Play Audio(A ellas) les gusta aprender el español.  (They like to learn Spanish.)
  • Play Audio(A nosotros) nos gusta correr.  (We like to run.)

Note: In all of the above examples, the sentences are written with a prepositional phrase (a mí, a ti, etc.) at the beginning of the sentence.  This is optional and most Spanish-speakers will omit this phrase, but they may use it for emphasis in much the way we might emphasize in English by stressing a word or putting it in bold in writing: “You don’t like beets?  Well, I do!”  Another use is for clarification in the third person.  Since Le gusta comer y bailar could have several translations (“He likes to eat and dance”  or “She likes to eat and dance” or “You <formal> like to eat and dance” or “<Any named person> likes to eat and dance”), the clarifying phrase is used more often with  le or les.

Some other words that work the same way as gustar:

  • Play AudioDoler (to hurt; literally: to be painful) — Play AudioMe duelen los pies. (My feet hurt / are hurting me.)
  • Play AudioEncantar (to love; literally: to be enchanting) — Play AudioA los mexicanos les encantan los dramas coreanos. (Mexicans love Korean dramas.)
  • Play AudioMolestar (to mind; literally: to be irritating, bothersome) — Play Audio¿Le molesta la música? No, estoy bien. (Do you mind the music? No, I’m fine.)