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Spanish 101A

Spanish 101B

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Gustar, which means "something is pleasing to me", is different than the other verbs we have learned so far. Many Spanish verbs work just like English verbs in a straight forward "Subject-Verb" manner.

For example, let's look at the verb Querer,"to Want or to Like".

To say, "I want my book", we follow the same word order we just used in English "Yo quiero mi libro."

Yo is the subject that controls the verb, quiero, and mi libro is the direct object [what I want].

But Gustar doesn't work this way.

We cannot say *Yo gusto mi libro. Gustar functions a little differently. With Gustar, the subject is the thing or person that is pleasing to you. In other words, we say

The book is pleasing to me:

Me gusta el libro.
Me (to me) gusta (is pleasing) el libro (The book).

It may seem confusing because the subject, mi libro, comes after the verb. Do not let the word order influence you! Think of it this way: it is the responsiblility of other things and people to please you rather than for you to go out actively liking things!

Let's look at another example using Gustar: "I like horseback riding."

  • We need to say: Me gusta montar a caballo.
  • Remember this is not a direct translation. When I say, Me gusta montar a caballo, I'm really saying "Horseback riding is pleasing to me".

Me is an Indirect Object Pronoun referring to myself - I am whom is being pleased; Montar a Caballo is the real Subject - it is what is pleasing me. Gusta is the active verb and is singular because horseback riding is a concept or an action - at any rate, Montar is an infinitive and infinitives are ALWAYS SINGULAR.

Gustar requires an indirect object pronoun which indicates "to whom" the subject is pleasing:


(a mí)


(a ti)


(a él, a ella, a usted)


(a nosotros)


(a ellos/as, a ustedes)

Click here to see the corresponding pronouns in action.

Gustar sentences will always have three components:

#2: A form of Gustar
#3: A subject with a definite article
el café
la música
  • If the subject (what is pleasing) is singular, Gustar is conjugated in the 3rd person singular form (the él, ella, usted form):
Me gusta el vestido. The dress pleases me, or I like the dress.
Me encanta el vestido nuevo de Julia. Julia's new dress delights me, or I love Julie's new dress.
Me interesa el programa. The program interests me, or I'm interested in the program.
  • If what is pleasing is plural, (for example, shoes or the Italian shoes) then Gustar is conjugated in the 3rd person PLURAL form (Ellos, ellas, ustedes form):
Me gustan los zapatos. Shoes please me, or I like shoes.

Me encantan los zapatos italianos.giraffe shoes

The Italian shoes please me, or I love Italian shoes.
Me fascinan los caballos. Horses fascinate me, or I am fascinated by horses.
  • So Gustar and similar type verbs are conjugated depending on whether the subject is singular or plural:
Me interesa el libro. The book interests me [I am interested in the book]
Me interesan los libros. The books interest me [I am interested in the books]
Me molesta la carta. The letter bothers me.
Me molestan las abejas Bees bother me -or - Bees are bothering me.
  • But remember, infinitives are always singular, no matter how many you list!
Me gusta montar a caballo y nadar en el mar. I enjoy horseback riding and swimming in the ocean.
  • For now think of Gustar verbs as having only two conjugations, the 3rd person singular and plural (gusta and gustan)

Avoid the error of *Me gusto - At best this implies you are physically appealing to yourself which is probably not what you mean to say (at worst it is TMI.)

It is safe to use Gustar when referring to professionals and people when you are using their professional titles.

Me gustan los profesores de mi universidad I like the professors at my university.