Thread: Gustar
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Old February 16, 2011, 04:06 PM
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Apalánter Apalánter is offline
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Native Language: American English
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Pattern: The verb Gustar means “to please.”

Spanish has a different way of expressing positive feelings about people and things. In English, the subject of a sentence “likes” something or someone else. In Spanish, that thing or person “pleases” the subject instead.

Gustar Basics
Instead of saying that people like chocolate, for example, you would say that chocolate pleases them. It seems a little backwards at first, but they are really two ways of expressing the same idea: people have good feelings about chocolate. Consider the following Spanish sentence:

El chocolate me gusta.

This sentence means “I like chocolate,” but it literally says “Chocolate pleases me.” The subject of the sentence is the chocolate, not I. That is why gustar in this case is conjugated as gusta, NOT gusto.

More Gustar
When you understand who the subject of the sentence is, it is clear how the verb gustar will be conjugated in most cases. It is almost always conjugated as gusta(one thing or person) or gustan(more than one).
The part of the sentence that will change based on who has positive feelings is the object pronoun. Consider this example:

La pizza me gusta. I like pizza. ( Pizza pleases me)

La pizza nos gusta. We like pizza. (Pizza pleases us)

You have learned to conjugate verbs based on who is performing the action. But as you can see here, the verb form is the same in both sentences. This is because the pizza is actually the subject of the sentence, and we are only receiving the pleasure.

Word Order
That all seems logical when you think about it, but it becomes more difficult when you realize that the word order of these sentences is flexible. It is acceptable to say

La pizza me gusta. I like pizza.

but it is actually more common to say

Me gusta la pizza. I like pizza.

Don't let this confuse you! The subject of the sentence is still the pizza. That is why the verb is gusta, NOT gusto.
Just remember that you will almost always use the two forms gusta (for singular nouns)and gustan (for plural nouns).

Me gusta el chocolate. (singular noun)

Me gustan los pantalones. (plural noun)

Me gusta jugar al tenis.

Other People
Notice that the pronoun changes depending on the person. Although not always necessary, you may use the words in parentheses for emphasis and clarification. Notice that the pronoun "le" is used to refer to "she", "he" and "usted." For clarification, it is often necessary to use the words in parentheses to specify whom you are talking about.

(A mí) me gusta el chocolate. -- I like chocolate.

(A ti) te gusta la pizza. -- You like pizza.

(A ella) legusta bailar. -- She like to dance.

(A él) le gusta dibujar. -- He likes to draw.

(A Carlos) le gusta pintar. -- Carlos likes to paint.

(A usted)le gusta la fruta. -- You (formal) like fruit.

(A nosotros/as) nos gusta caminar. -- We like to walk.

(A ellos) les gusta ir al cine. -- They like to go to the movies.

(A ellas) les gusta leer. -- They like to read.

(A ustedes) les gusta cantar. -- You all like to sing.

To make a negative sentence, simply put "no" before the pronoun.
No me gustan las manzanas. -- I don't like apples.
No nos gustan las manzanas. -- We don't like apples.

Questions and Answers
To make questions with gustar, follow this pattern.

¿Te gusta jugar deportes? -- Do you like to play sports?

Sí, me gusta jugar deportes. -- Yes, I like to play sports.

No, no me gusta jugar deportes. -- No, I don't like to play sports.

¿A ella le gustan las verduras? -- Does she like vegetables?

Sí, le gustan las verduras. -- Yes, she likes vegetables.

No, no le gustan verduras. -- No, she doesn't like vegetables.

¿Qué te gusta hacer? -- What do you like to do?

Me gusta jugar deportes. -- I like to play sports.

Last edited by Apalánter; February 16, 2011 at 04:16 PM.
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