In this blog, we’ll show you how to use this verb more accurately

If someone said to you “Chocolate is pleasing to me” you might be forgiven for thinking they’d just stepped off the set of a period drama! However, when speaking Spanish that’s exactly what you need to say when you want to express that you like chocolate. We would say me gusta el chocolate using the verb gustar which literally means to be pleasing to.

Firstly, let’s look at some basic patterns. When we are talking about singular nouns, we’d use me gusta for I like and with plural nouns we need to say me gustan to mean the same thing. This is because gustar has to agree with the sustantivo (noun) we are talking about. Look at the following table to see how this works in practice and with people other than “I”.

Singular English Plural English
Me gusta el chocolate I like chocolate Me gustan los perros I like dogs
Te gusta el chocolate You (informal) like chocolate Te gustan los perros You (informal) like dogs
Le gusta el chocolate He/She/You (formal) like(s) chocolate Le gustan los perros He/She/You (formal) like(s) dogs
Nos gusta el chocolate We like chocolate Nos gustan los perros We like dogs
Nos gusta el chocolate We like chocolate Nos gustan los perros We like dogs
Os gusta el chocolate You (plural) like chocolate Os gustan los perros You (plural) like dogs
Les gusta el chocolate You (formal plural)/They like chocolate Les gustan los perros You (formal plural)/They like dogs

Can you spot the pattern? You simply add an “n” to gusta when we are talking about plural nouns, and the person changes using the indirect object pronouns in the table. The translations we’ve given in English are the meaning of the Spanish phrases, but not a literal translation.

However, if you’ve already started learning Spanish, or you’ve read some of our other grammar blogs, you might be wondering why the verb gustar doesn’t change its ending depending on the person who you’re talking about. That’s because, as mentioned before, the subject of the verb is the thing which is liked and not the person saying the phrase. 

How can we say “I like you”

So far, we’ve just seen how to use gustar to talk about liking objects or things like animals. But how can we say “I like you” for example? Here’s where we need to tener cuidado (be careful) as you could end up saying you fancy someone, rather than liking them as a friend! For, “I like you in a romantic way” you’d follow the normal verb patterns and say Me gustas (You are pleasing to me). To say “I like you in a platonic way” you need to use the verb caer bien and say Me caes bien (You sit well with me). This verb caer bien/mal also works in a similar way to gustar and you can follow the same rules as in the table above to use it to talk about liking people (or not!) as friends. Here are a couple of examples:

  • A José le cae bien Roberto – José likes Roberto
  • A mí me caen bien mis suegros – I like my mother- and father-in-law
  • Nos cae mal el nuevo compañero de piso – We don’t like our new flatmate
  • Les cae mal el jefe – They don’t like their boss

Easy! Now you’ve learnt how to use both gustar and caer bien/mal to be able to talk about liking people and things. This same structure is also used with a range of other verbs in Spanish. Let’s take a look at some.

Other verbs, same structure

Verb Example English
Aburrir (to bore) Nos aburre el profesor We find the teacher boring
Doler (to hurt) Me duelen los pies My feet hurt
Encantar (to love) A Juana le encanta esquiar Juana loves skiing
Fascinar (to fascinate) Os fascinan las películas de terror You’re fascinated by horror films/You love horror films
Interesar (to interest) A los niños no les interesa ir a museos The children aren’t interested in going to museums
Preocupar (to worry) Les preocupa la salud de su madre They are worried about their mum’s health

In order to get better at using this sort of verb structure, you need to be speaking Spanish as much as possible so in the end you’ll naturally use these different types of verbs. By practising your Spanish with native speakers, you’ll get plenty of chances to be corrected and listen to more examples of accurate usage of this grammar point. As with everything when learning Spanish, you need to be exposed to as much of the language as possible.

Why not come and join one of our online or face-to-face Spanish courses so you can learn how to use the verb “gustar” more accurately and with greater confidence?

You’ll soon be chatting away talking about your likes and dislikes in no time!Hablamos - full-on Spanish!