In this short guide, we will cover the following topics for ‘gustar’ in Spanish:
- What does ‘Gustar’ mean?
- How Does ‘Gustar’ Work in Spanish?
- When to Use ‘Gustar’ in Spanish
- Talking about likes and dislikes
- Expressing attraction
- Asking people what they want
- Synonyms of ‘Gustar’ in Spanish
What does ‘Gustar’ mean?
In Spanish, ‘gustar’ is used to express a positive reaction towards something or someone. This verb is usually translated as ‘to like’. However, depending on the context where is being used, gustar can be different meanings:
- When it’s used to describe a person’s likes, it means ‘to like’ or ‘to enjoy’.
- If referring to people, ‘gustar’ means ‘to like’ or ‘to be attracted’.
- When used as a polite expression to ask people what they want or need, ‘gustar’ is close in meaning to ‘would like’ or ‘to want’.
How Does ‘Gustar’ Work in Spanish
Many students struggle with ‘gustar’ since it doesn’t seem to follow the same conjugation rules as other verbs. This is because, as established before, when talking about likes and dislikes this verb always works with an indirect object and is conjugated based on it rather than the subject that performs the action.
Here’s an example comparing how verbs are usually conjugated, and how to conjugate a verb like ‘gustar’:
Yo no como manzanas.
I don’t eat apples.
A mí no me gustan las manzanas.
I don’t like apples.
Okay, let’s put in words for non-crazy-grammar humans: gustar expresses a feeling that an object, person or activity causes on you. So, you conjugate this verb based on the thing, person or activity that is causing that feeling in you.
As confusing as that may sound, the good news is that, with most of its meanings, gustar can only be conjugated in the third person singular or plural (‘gusta’ or ‘gustan’). To determine the conjugation of ‘gustar’, you need to look at the object (the thing or activity that someone likes).
Here are some key points to determine how to conjugate ‘gustar’ in Spanish:
- Singular object or one person = singular conjugation (gusta)
- Verb in infinitive = singular conjugation (gusta)
- More than one object = plural conjugation (gustan)
To conjugate ‘gustar’ in Spanish, there are some key elements that you need:
- Object: to indicate the thing, person, or activity that someone likes. It can be a noun or a verb in the infinitive form.
- Indirect object pronoun: to indicate who likes or doesn’t like the object of the sentence.
Me gustan mucho las fresas.
I like strawberries very much.
A Paty no le gustan los perros.
Paty doesn’t like dogs.
A Leo y a mí nos gusta mucho viajar.
Leo and I like to travel a lot.
Now that you get a grasp on the theory, let’s see when you can use this verb in Spanish and how to in each context.
When to Use ‘Gustar’ in Spanish with Examples
As you already know, ‘gustar’ is used to talk about your likes and dislikes. But since depending on the context the meaning of this verb can change, it’s important that you understand its different connotations because using it in the wrong situation can affect what you wanted to say.
The three most common ways to use ‘gustar’ are:
- Talking about likes and dislikes
- To express attraction
- To ask about what people want or need
In the sections below, I’ll include some examples of how to use ‘gustar’ in Spanish and phrase structure you can use to start creating your own sentences.
Talking about likes and dislikes
In Spanish, ‘gustar’ is used to describe things that please someone. So, it can be applied to talk about activities, objects and animals that you like. In this context, it can be translated as ‘to like’ or ‘to enjoy’.
Verbs: Activities & Actions
As established before, gustar’s conjugations depend on the object of the sentence (the thing you like). Also, remember that ‘gustar’ can be conjugated in any tense that you need. Below, there is a phrase structure that you need to follow when talking about activities that you like or don’t like to do.
[Indirect object pronoun] + [gusta] + (adverb) + [verb in infinitive]
No me gusta bailar.
I don’t like to dance.
Nos gusta ir a la playa.
We like going to the beach.
A mi mamá le gustaba mucho ir al teatro.
My mom really liked going to the theater.
La verdad, me gustaría tener muchos perros.
To be honest, I would like to have many dogs.
Nouns: Places & Things
If instead of an activity, you want to talk about a thing that you like. You can follow the next formula to build singular sentences with gustar.
[Indirect object pronoun] + [gusta] + [definite article] + [singular noun]
¿Te gusta la música clásica?
Do you like classical music?
No me gustó el libro.
I didn’t like the book.
A Susy le gusta el chocolate blanco.
Susy likes white chocolate.
Finally, if you want to talk about multiple things that you like, you’ll need to use ‘gustar’ in plural sentences. Here is the formula that you’ll use in this case.
[Indirect object pronoun] + [gustan] + [definite article] + [plural noun]
A mí no me gustan las arañas.
I don’t like spiders.
Nos gustan mucho las clases de español.
We like the Spanish classes very much.
A mi hermano le gustan los pasteles de chocolate.
My brother likes chocolate cakes.
Nena, ¿a ti te gustaban las muñecas?
Girl, did you used to like dolls?
Claudia me dijo que le gustaron las galletas.
Claudia told me that she liked the cookies.
Take Note: With ‘gustar’, we use something called personal ‘a’. In other words, we use ‘a mí’ (and other pronouns) before the indirect pronoun as a way to emphasize or, if there’s not enough context, introduce who likes that thing that you’re talking about.
Unlike English, in Spanish, when using the verb gustar to talk about someone, you’re actually expressing that you’re attracted to that person. Now, if you actually find that person attractive, it wouldn’t be a big deal if you say me gustas. But if this is not the case…well, things can get awkward very quickly.
When using ‘gustar’ to talk about attraction, many students get confused because they notice some small changes in the conjugations. I promise you, this is not as bad as it sounds. In fact, let’s go check how to build this meaning.
As mentioned before, ‘gustar’ is conjugated based on the thing that we like. With objects and activities, we use plural and singular nouns, as a result, our conjugations are limited to the third person singular or plural.
When liking someone, this principle doesn’t change: your conjugation is still based on that person, but it’s no longer limited to the third person singular or plural. This means that the conjugation matches the person that is liked by someone else.
So, if you were wondering why I didn’t include the second person (gustas) in the conjugation tables above, it’s because this is the one exception to the rule. Check these examples below:
[Indirect object pronoun] + [‘gustar’ conjugated’] + (person)
Creo que le gusto (yo) a Fernando.
I think Fernando likes me.
La verdad es que me gustas (tú) mucho.
To be honest, I like you a lot.
A mi hermana le gustan Pedro y Pablo.
My sister likes Pedro and Pablo.
Hace años, me gustabas (tú) mucho.
Years ago, I liked you a lot.
If you check examples #1 and #2, you’ll see that the people being liked are you and me. As a result, gustar is conjugated according to those people ( yo le gusto – tú me gustas). Of course, you still have to use indirect object pronouns to explain who likes someone.
To put it simply, indirect pronouns point out the person who feels the attraction and the conjugation of the verb indicates who they are attracted to. Notice that this same idea is applied to the rest of the examples. Although it seems like a big change, the truth is that this conjugation is still based on the person you like!
Take Note: In Mexico, you can use the expression ‘caer bien’ to say that you like someone in a non-romantic way (just friends). For more standard expressions, you can use ‘agradar’.
Asking people what they want
One super common use of gustar in Spanish that a lot of learners overlook is to use it as a polite way to inquire about what someone wants or needs. Although this meaning is very useful in restaurants, you can also apply it in formal situations, with people that you’re not familiar with or, simply, when you need to show good manners 😉
With this meaning, ‘gustar’ is translated as ‘would like’ or ‘to want’. Now, in this situation, ‘gustar’ always works as a question that the speaker will ask directly to the person. Since this application is slightly different from the other meanings, in this case, you won’t use indirect objects and pronouns.
[Subject] + [‘gustar’ in the presente tense] + [complement]
Suegra, ¿gusta que le ayude?
Mom, would you like me to help you?
Lucas, ¿gustas más ensalada?
Lucas, do you want more salad?
Disculpen, señoritas, ¿gustan que les muestre la carta de postres?
Excuse me, ladies, would you like me to show you the dessert menu?
Check the examples above. If you noticed, gustar is being conjugated like any other verb. This means that it’s conjugated based on the person that you’re asking the question to and always in the present tense.
Take Note: Although gustar is suitable for asking what people might want or need, it might be too formal to use among your family members or your friends. For more informal situations, you can use the verb querer.
Gustar Expressions & Idioms
These are a couple of expressions that contain the verb ‘gustar’ and can help you sound more natural in Spanish.
Gustar la mala vida indicates that someone likes or has a tendency to get into problematic situations. This expression is literally translated as ‘to like the bad life’.
Me asusta pero me gusta is the translation of ‘I like it but it scares me’.
Synonyms of ‘Gustar’ in Spanish
Agradar is another way to say ‘to like’. This can be applied to people and things, however, it’s not widely used.
Caer bien is a very common Spanish way to indicate that you like someone in a friendly context. It can be translated as ‘to like’ or ‘to get on well’.
Atraer is the direct translation of ‘to attract’. As a result, this verb is used to express someone’s attraction towards another person.
Querer can be used instead of ‘gustar’ as a slightly less polite and formal way to ask people if they need something. Querer is the direct translation of ‘to want’.
I Like You in Spanish: Me gustas vs I Me caes bien
Me gusta vs Me gustaría
of the verb gustar + what it is you like). Example: I like to eat ice cream. Spanish: Me gusta comer helado. Literal Translation: Eating ice cream is pleasing to me.What gustar means in Spanish? ›
Gustar means to be pleasing to or to be liked.What is a sentence with me gusta in it? ›
Me gusta la pizza. I like pizza. Me gusta nadar. I like swimming.What is an example of a sentence with Gustar and an infinitive? ›
Just like nouns, infinitives can be used after a verb like gustar to say what you and others like to do. Me gusta la musica. I like music.What is the rule for a mi me gusta? ›
Sometimes we have the prepositional phrase A + mí (or tí etc.) before “me gusta“. This is used to give more emphasis that the person likes something and to make it clear who that person is.What is the Gustar rule? ›
In order to say "to like (something)" in Spanish, we use the verb gustar. The word order is unusual, however: pronoun (me, te, le, etc.) + gusta/gustan + noun/infinitive verb. Me gusta la última película de Bardem.How do you use words like Gustar? ›
The most common structure of verbs like gustar uses the verb in its third person form, whether singular or plural. Singular: me gusta la bebida (I like the [one] drink.) Plural: me gustan las bebidas (I like the drinks.)What is the rule for Gustar in Spanish? ›
When the thing that you like is singular, you use gusta (third person singular), and when the thing that you like is plural, you use gustan (third person plural). Note that me, te, le, nos, os and les, which are used with gustar, are indirect object pronouns.Does Gustar mean to please? ›
When translating English sentences using the verb "like," the Spanish verb gustar is used. Technically, since gustar means "to please," the thing being liked becomes the subject of the sentence in Spanish, and the person or persons liking become the object of gustar.What is mi gusta? ›
Me gusta is a Spanish verb phrase that translates to “I like (it).” The me gusta face, as the image is commonly called, is a drawing of a bald, moonlike head with a scrunched-up face, pinched lips, and giant, bloodshot eyes that appear as if they've popped out of their sockets.
Gustar has two main forms in the preterite: the singular gustó (pronounced: goos-TOH) and the plural gustaron (goos-TAH-rohn).What is an example of using me in a sentence? ›
Me is the object pronoun, used as the object (or receiver) of the action of the verb, as in these examples: My math teacher encouraged me to come for extra help after school. (Me is the object of encouraged.) She asked me to bring my homework.What is the meaning of gusta mucho? ›
I like it a lot.Is it me gusta or me gusto? ›
Me gusta (el coche) is used for the present tense: I like the car/The car pleases me. Me gustó (el coche) is used for the past tense: I liked the car/The car pleased me.What are 5 example of infinitives? ›
- There's too much sugar to put in this bowl.
- I had too many books to carry.
- This soup is too hot to eat.
- She was too tired to work.
- He arrived too late to see the actors.
- I've had enough food to eat.
- She's old enough to make up her own mind.
- There isn't enough snow to ski on.
- To travel all across Italy is Lucretia's New Year resolution. (subject)
- To finish a new book is the only reason Kyle would stay up all night. ...
- A good habit to have is to go for a walk in the evening. ...
- Katherine wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Other examples of infinitives in Spanish are hablar, viajar, comprender, and resistir. The corresponding English infinitives are "to speak," "to travel," "to understand," and "to resist."What happens with a verb after me gusta? ›
We always use the singular form of verb gustar when followed by actions! For example, this is incorrect: Me gustan bailar y cantar. If you want to ask someone whether s/he likes doing something, just remember to add the question marks and change the intonation.What language is me gusta mucho? ›
me gusto mucho - translated from Spanish to English.What does si a mi me gusta mean? ›
Spanish term or phrase: Asi me gusta a mí... English translation: that's the way I like it.
|Use singular form: gusta||Use plural form: gustan|
|With singular nouns: Me gusta. la música. I like music.||With plural nouns: Me gustan los deportes. I like sports.|
Verbs like gustar or encantar are NOT reflexive. These verbs are intransitive verbs and the pronouns they use are not reflexive, but indirect object pronouns. For example: "Me gusta la paella" --> Paella pleases ME. ( me = indirect object pronoun)What follows Gustar? ›
Gustar is most often conjugated in the third person singular or plural, gusta or gustan, and matches what comes after the verb, rather than what comes in front of it. If a verb in the infinitive follows gustar, indicating that someone likes to do something, use the singular form, gusta.What does gustar directly translate? ›
Gustar is often translated as “to like” in English, but its literal meaning is “to be pleasing to”. With gustar, the subject of the sentence is the pleasing thing, whereas the person being pleased is expressed by an indirect object.What are the verbs examples? ›
The verb “gustar” is another -ar ending verb, but it conjugates differently than regular verbs in that it doesn't use the conjugation pattern “-o, -as, -a, -amos, -áis, -an” in the expected manner. This is because the verb “gustar” literally means “to be pleasing” to someone.Does Gustar need a pronoun? ›
You must use Indirect Object Pronouns with Gustar. Let's take a quick look at how to use indirect object pronouns with gustar. If you want to say something is pleasing to me, you will use the indirect object pronoun me.Can you use Gustar with a person? ›
The verb gustar is used in Spanish to express when a person finds another person attractive in that special romantic way! In the UK we often translate this as he fancies you, but in this lesson we will translate it as he likes you.How do you respond to Mucho Gusto? ›
It can be used in the beginning and the end of the conversation. Instead of saying “adios” to someone who you just met, you can simply say “mucho gusto!” And if you are wondering how to respond to “mucho gusto”, the best answer is “igualmente” o “mucho gusto también”.
Vosotros is a subject pronoun used only in Spain. It is one of four subject pronouns in Spanish that are translated as you.
As a “possesive adjective”
'Mi' is always used to indicate possession. It's used in the same way as 'my' in English, with the only difference being that it has a plural form, 'mis', which is used when there's more than one possession (i.e., with plural nouns).
me | American Dictionary
the person speaking; the objective form of I: Pass me that book/Pass that book to me. "I want to go to the store." "Me, too (= I also want to go)."
Harold watched you and me. They sent you and me a package. The sun was shining on you and me. The kids gave the books to you and me.What does esta no me gusta mean? ›
No, I don't like this. —¡Esta no me gusta! No, I don't like it.What are the 2 forms of Gustar? ›
Gustar has two main forms in the preterite: the singular gustó (pronounced: goos-TOH) and the plural gustaron (goos-TAH-rohn).What are words like gustar? ›
- encantar to be enchanting, to like very much.
- fascinar to fascinate, to be fascinating (to)
- interesar to be interesting (to)
- molestar to bother, to annoy.
- preocupar to worry.
- importar to be important (to), to matter.
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.What tense is gustaría? ›
The most common verb in the conditional tense is me gustaría (I would like). This can be used to say what you would like to do in the future, eg: me gustaría vivir en Nueva York (I would like to live in New York)Does Gustar mean to like or to please? ›
The Verb Gustar. In the Spanish language, the verb “gustar” means to like something or like doing something.What comes after Gustar? ›
Even if we don't need to, we always use an indirect object pronoun with gustar. In a similar way, if you need to include someone's name in the sentence, you'll start with a followed by their name, and you'll still use the indirect object pronoun: A Elena le gustan los zapatos. Elena likes shoes.
In order to say "to like (something)" in Spanish, we use the verb gustar. The word order is unusual, however: pronoun (me, te, le, etc.) + gusta/gustan + noun/infinitive verb.Is Gustar an emotion? ›
Gustar is considered an affection verb because it expresses emotions, ideas, interests, or preferences. The correct gustar conjugation needs an indirect object pronoun instead of a personal pronoun. That way, the person who likes something becomes the object and what he/she likes becomes the subject.Why is Gustar important? ›
Gustar is a unique verb. We learn it early because it's useful to be able to say you like something, but grammatically it's an advanced concept. In English, we say 'I like … , you like … , he likes … , etc. In this case we conjugate 'to like' based on the person doing the liking (I, you, or he).Why is Gustar called a backwards verb? ›
*** Backwards verbs are verbs that are conjugated like “Me Gusta.” We call them backwards, because when translated literally you aren't the subject of the sentence, the thing that you like or don't like is. Example: Me gusta el chocolate. This means “Chocolate is pleasing to me”, not “I like chocolate.”