Verbs like Gustar (verbos como gustar)
The way that different groups organize and understand their realities is often revealed in how meaning in encoded in their languages. For example, in English, we say:
- I like Spanish class.
For English speakers the verb “to like” is something that you bestow on an entity (person, thing, place, concept, etc.)
In Spanish “liking” is not something that one does, but rather the entity possesses a quality that affects the individual or individuals:
- --Me gusta la clase de español.
- I like Spanish class. [Literal translation: Spanish class is pleasing to me.]
In these constructions, the entity that possesses the quality is the grammatical subject (la clase de español) must agree with the verb (gusta) and then an indirect object (me) signals to whom the entity is pleasing.
So if we have a plural entity (los perros) as the subject, the verb needs to agree. In this example, “gustan” and “me” still conveys to whom dogs are pleasing:
- --Me gustan los perros.
- I like dogs. [Literal translation: Dogs are pleasing to me.]
If an action (or an event or state of being) is the subject of the sentence, the verb is always conjugated in the 3rd person singular:
- --Me gusta estudiar el español.
- I like studying Spanish. [Literal translation: Studying Spanish is pleasing to me.]
Spanish allows us a full range of indirect object pronouns in addition to “me” so that we can express to whom something is pleasing.
Indirect Object Pronouns used in Gustar-like constructions
|Indirect Object Pronouns used in Gustar-like constructions|
- --¿Te importan los exámenes?
- Are exams important to you?
- --A Sam le encantan los partidos de baloncesto.
- Sam loves basketball games.
- --Nos gusta ir al cine.
- We like to go to the movies.
- --A los estudiantes les preocupan sus notas en la clase.
- Students are worried about their grades in the class.
When you ask someone if they agree with a statement that uses Gustar-like verb, you must use A and one of the following pronouns:
|él/ella/usted (Ud.)||ellos/ellas/ustedes (Uds.)|
- --María: ¡Me gusta estudiar la gramática! ¿Y a ti?
- I like to study grammar. And you?
These pronouns are also used for emphasis, when you are marking a difference in opinion:
- --Juan: ¡A mí, no me gusta para nada!
- I don’t like to study it at all!
Other verbs like gustar:
- parecer bien/mal