'Gustar' and Similar Verbs
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  Verb Tenses  
    An introduction to verbs & personal pronouns  
    Verbs - Ser (to be) Estar (to be)  
    The present simple tense - regular verbs (I am)  
    The present simple tense - irregular verbs (I am)  
    The past simple tense - regular verbs (I was)  
    The past simple tense - irregular verbs (I was)  
    The imperfect tense - all verbs (I used to)  
    The future tense - all verbs (I will be)  
    The continuous tenses (I am going)  
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    The conditional tense - regular and irregular verbs  
    The present subjunctive tense  
    The past subjunctive tense (If I were to)  
    The infinitive tense (verbs in their original forms - to be)  
    The imperative tense (command verbs - go / stay etc)  
    'Haber' with the conditional and past subjunctive tenses  
  More About Verbs  
    Reflexive verbs - Part 1  
    Reflexive verbs - Part 2  
    The 'Gerund' (the equivalent of forming 'ing...' verbs)  
    'Gustar' and similar verbs - A different way of using verbs  
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Video Lessons
Summary of Lesson
A Look at how sentences are structured when using the verb ‘gustar’ in the present simple tense. Looking at how indirect object pronouns and other nouns and pronouns are used in such sentences.
A look at other common verbs that are formed in the same way as 'gustar'.
How the verb 'gustar' and others like it are formed with other tenses other than the present simple tense.
  What you can learn from this lesson
To understand the principle differences in the formation of verbs like 'gustar' as compared to verbs that are formed using more conventional methods.
Understanding how indirect object pronouns (me, te, le), are used with verbs like 'gustar'.
Being able to apply a more literal way of translating verbs like ‘gustar’ to better understand how they are used in conversation.
Appreciating how verbs like ‘gustar’ are most commonly used in the 1st person singular and 3rd person plural but being aware of how they might be used in other ways.
Knowing when and how to give emphasis to sentences that use verbs like 'gustar' by using pronouns.
Knowing how to correctly position nouns and pronouns in sentences that use verbs like 'gustar'.
Learning other common verbs that are used in the same way as 'gustar' and being able to use them in various different tenses.
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The first part of this lesson seeks to introduce the concept of how verbs like ‘gustar’ are used in conversation differently to how verbs are normally used. To illustrate this concept we will look at how the verb ‘gustar’ is formed and used in the present simple tense.


How verbs are normally used with indirect object pronouns


The first point to make is that verbs like ‘gustar’ are always used with indirect object pronouns. Indirect object pronouns in Spanish are words like me, te, le, meaning me, you him and her. For a complete explanation of what indirect object pronouns are and how they are used take a look at the separate lesson on direct and indirect object pronouns.


The following illustrates how indirect object pronouns might normally be used with normal verbs.


Él me compra flores.  He buys me flowers.
Cómprame flores.  Buy me flowers.
No compres flores. (no object pronoun)    Don’t buy flowers.


In normal sentences the indirect object pronoun if included at all can come before or after the verb.


Now lets look at some sentences with the verb ‘gustar’. Try to think of the verb ‘gustar’ as meaning ‘to please’ rather than ‘to like’. This is the way to best understand how verbs like ‘gustar’ work. You have to think of the sentence in a back to front manner. In each of the translations given, the first translation is more literal whereas the second shows how we might normally translate sentences using ‘gustar’ so that they make sense in English.

  literal translation more usual translation
Me gusta la flor It pleases me, the flower. I like the flower.
La flor me gusta The flower, it pleases me. I like the flower.
Nos gustan las flores. They please us, (the) flowers. We like (the) flowers.
Las flores nos gustan. (The) flowers, they please us. We like (the) flowers.


Things to note


1)      An indirect object pronoun is always placed directly before the verb ‘gustar’. (me, te, le, nos, os, les.)

2)      The verb ‘gustar’ is normally used in the 3rd person singular (it - gusta), or the 3rd person plural (they - gustan).

3)      It is the ending of the verb ‘gustar’ that changes to agree with the things that are being described. Usually either singular or plural endings (it or they).

4)      The thing or things that are being described (or liked in this case), can come before the verb or after it.


Less common formations


Although ‘gustar’ is nearly always used in the 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural (it and they), it is possible to construct sentences in other forms.


  literal translation more usual translation
Me gustas.   You please me I like you.
Le gusto a él. I please him. He likes me.
A él le gusto.   To him, I please. He likes me.
Le gustamos a ella.  We please her. She likes us.
A ella le gustamos.  To her, we please. She likes us.


Things to note.


1)      It is the ending of the verb ‘gustar’ that changes to agree with the personal pronouns being used. (In this case you, I and we.)

2)      If it is unclear who or what the indirect object pronoun refers to (le, meaning him or her), then a subject pronoun is added to the end or the beginning of the sentence (él / ella).


Giving emphasis


To give emphasis to sentences when using verbs like ‘gustar’ sometimes the following pronouns are used in front of the verb formation in the 1st and second person singular ( and ). Sometimes a name might be used in the third person singular instead of él or ella.


  literal translation more usual translation
A mí me gusta el chicle. To me, it pleases me, chewing gum. I like chewing gum.
¿A tí te gusta bailar? To you, it pleases you to dance? do you like to dance?
A Juan le gustan las plantas. To Juan, they please him, the plants. Juan likes plants.




The second part of this lesson looks at other verbs which are used in exactly the same way as the verb ‘gustar’. The majority of verbs in the Spanish language are used in the normal way as described in part one of this lesson but there are some very common verbs that are used in the same way as ‘gustar’. Below is a list of some of the most common types of these verbs you will come across in everyday speech.


caer bien / mal
hacer falta


importar (to matter) literal translation more usual translation
No me importa.  It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care.
¿Te importa si no vengo?  It matters to you if I don’t come? Do you mind if I don’t come?


doler (to hurt) literal translation more usual translation
Me duele la cabeza.  It hurts me, my head. My head hurts.
¿Te duele?     It hurts you? Does it hurt?


caer bien o mal (to like / dislike) literal translation more usual translation
 No me cae bien él. He doesn’t fall well to me. I don’t like him.
Ana me cae bien.  Ana falls well to me. I like Ana.


Encantar (to love / really like) literal translation more usual translation
Me encanta nadar. It really pleases me, swimming. I love swimming.
Les encanta jugar juntos.  It really pleases them to play together. They love playing together.


Notice that in the above examples the verb ‘encantar’ in Spanish is followed by infinitive verbs (nadar and jugar). It is very common for an infinitive verb to follow words like ‘gustar’ and ‘encantar’ which are used to say what de do and don’t like. Take a look at the lesson on infinitive verbs to learn more.


quedar (to be left) literal translation more usual translation
No nos queda nada. It stays with us, nothing. We have nothing left.
Me quedan solo dos horas más.  They stay with me, only two hours more. I only have two hours left.


interesar (to interest) literal translation more usual translation
No me interesa la gramática.   It interests me not, grammar. I’m not interested in grammar.
 ¿Por qué las rocas te interesan? Why do rocks, they interest you. Why are you interested in rocks?


Faltar (to be missing) literal translation more usual translation
Me faltan dos Euros.   They are missing to me, two Euros. I’m two Euros short.
A Él le falta el recibo.   It is missing to him, the receipt. He hasn’t got the receipt.


Hacer falta (to need) literal translation more usual translation
Me hace falta más dinero.   It’s lacking to me, more money. I need more money.
Les hacen falta jugadores.    They are lacking players. They need more players.




The last part of the lesson looks at how verbs like ‘gustar’ can be used in tenses other than the present simple tense. In reality verbs like ‘gustar’ are no different to any other verbs when forming different tenses. They are formed in the same way as normal verbs. The only difference, is that you have to think about the particular verb in a back to front manner to make sense of what is being said. This is exactly what we have been doing throughout this lesson with verbs in the present simple tense!


Here are some examples of how ‘gustar’ and verbs like ‘gustar’ might be used in different tenses.


Me gustó la música.

It did please me, the music. (I liked the music.)

Past simple (preterite) tense.


Me encantaba el helado cuando era un niño.

It really used to please me, icecream, when I was a child.

(I really used to like icecream when I was a child.)

Imperfect tense.


A ti te importará cuando tengas más edad.

It will matter to you when your older. (You will care when your older.)

Future tense.


A ella le interesaría saber.

To her it would interest her to know. (It would interest her to know.)

Conditional tense with would.


That concludes this lesson on the verb ‘gustar’ and similar verbs. If you have not done so already watch the actual video for this lesson and then try one of the associated quizzes to test your understanding.

'Gustar' and Similar Verbs
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