Conjugating the Spanish Verb Gustar (to Like)
Spanish verbs fall into different groups, and each group is conjugated a little differently. If you’re going to master Spanish verbs like gustar, you need to be able to identify which group a verb belongs to: regular (follows regular conjugation rules for -ar, -er, and -ir verbs), stem-changing (morphs depending on how you use it in a sentence), spelling-changing (has consonant-spelling changes in some forms to follow pronunciation rules), or reflexive (reflects the action back on the subject of the sentence).
Gustar (goos-tahr) is a regular -ar verb, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at it in a sentence. Although English-speakers use the verb gustar to mean to like, a closer translation is to please/be pleasing to. Think of it this way: When it comes to liking and disliking something, English and Spanish have a slightly different way of expressing what’s going on. In English, the subject of the sentence is in charge of liking or disliking something. You may say, I like vanilla ice cream, or, I don’t like red sports cars. In Spanish, the object of your desire (or lack thereof) is more responsible for pleasing you. When you form a sentence, then, whatever is doing the pleasing becomes the subject and therefore determines the form of the verb gustar. Use the following rules as your guide:
If you like a single thing, use gusta, the third-person singular form: Me gusta el helado de vainilla (I like vanilla ice cream/Vanilla ice cream is pleasing to me).
If you like two or more things, use gustan, the third-person plural form: Me gustan mis zapatos nuevos (I like my new shoes/My new shoes are pleasing to me).
If you like to do activities and you’re using verbs to describe those activities, use the third-person singular form. Stick with the third-person singular, even if you like multiple activities: Me gusta pescar (I like to fish/Fishing pleases me).
Use indirect-object pronouns to clarify to whom the thing (subject) is pleasing. If you need further clarification, place a clause with a and the name of the person at the beginning of your sentence: A Juan le gusta el restaurante mexicano (Juan likes the Mexican restaurant/To Juan, to him, the Mexican restaurant is pleasing). The literal translation may sound a little redundant, but in Spanish it simply emphasizes the indirect object.
You simply put a no in front of the indirect-object pronoun — after the clarifying clause — to make a negative statement with the verb gustar and other similar verbs: A él no le gusta lavar los platos (He doesn’t like to wash the dishes).
You can add mucho after the verb to say that you really like something: A ella le gusta mucho bailar (She really likes dancing).
|Tense||Third-Person Singular||Third-Person Plural|