The Verb Gustar: How to ALWAYS Use It Correctly (No More Confusion!)
If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because te gusta aprender español (you enjoy learning Spanish). So, maybe you can guess which word we will focus on today: the verb gustar (to like or to enjoy) —a very useful and important word to express likes and dislikes. Knowing how to use it will open up a whole new world in conversations for you! So, if you want to learn how to use it, keep on reading!
What does gustar actually mean?
The thing about the verb gustar is that there are many combinations you may use, and they can all express different things.
Usually, sentences in Spanish work like this:
subject + verb + object
Example: Yo manejo una bicicleta (I ride a bike). Simple, ¿no crees? (Simple, don’t you think?) Now that you’re feeling confident, let’s see an example with the verb gustar:
- A mí me gustan los perros. (I like dogs.)
So, what the heck just happened? Why isn’t “yo gusto los perros”* the correct way? ¡No te desesperes! (Don’t fret!) Let’s dive in a little bit to see how the verb gustar works in this sentence.
Let’s scramble it a little bit:
Los perros me gustan. — In Spanish, this is also correct and it has the same meaning! So what does this mean?
- Dogs taste me? —Unless you’re a Spanish-learning talking steak, no.
- Dogs like me? —Maybe they do, but still not the correct meaning.
- Dogs please me? —This might get us somewhere…
- Dogs are pleasing to me? —That makes much more sense!
Well, it turns out that the actual literal meaning of the verb gustar is “to be pleasing”! So, in Spanish, instead of saying “I like dogs”, we say “I’m pleased by dogs” or “Dogs are pleasing to me”.
How to conjugate the verb gustar
This is the way to conjugate sentences using gustar:
The first thing to use, which is optional, is:
- A mí (to me)
- A ti (to you) — singular
- A él, a ella, a usted (to him, to her, to formal you)
- A ellos, a ellas, a ustedes (masculine them, feminine them, plural you)
Then—and this is mandatory—reflexive pronouns:
- a mí = me
- a ti = te
- a él, a ella, a usted = le
- a nosotros = nos
- a ellos, a ellas, a ustedes = les
Then, depending on whether the noun is singular or plural, or a verb in the unconjugated form, you’ll use gusta or gustan.
After that, you put the noun. ¡Listo! (Done!) Now you can talk about what you like!
- A ti te gustan las hamburguesas. (You like hamburgers.)
- A ella le gusta el rosado. (She likes pink.)
- A ustedes les gusta viajar. (You guys like to travel.)
To express dislike for something, you may also use:
no + reflexive pronouns + the verb gustar :
- A ti no te gustan las hamburguesas. (You don’t like hamburgers.)
- A ella no le gusta el rosado. (She doesn’t like pink.)
- A ustedes no les gusta viajar. (You guys don’t like to travel.)
Hay algo que debes tomar en cuenta (There’s something to take into account): for plural nouns, you have to use gustan and for singular nouns you should use gusta.
Yo sé que parece complicado (I know it seems complicated), but the great thing about this is you don’t even have to learn all the grammar rules! Because the best way to learn how to use gustar in your conversations is to know and practice some chunks by heart. This is how we call common phrases in Spanish in our academy, where we actually have a whole lesson about the verb gustar, with a ton of sentences for you to fully understand how to use it.
Let’s see some other examples you’ll find there:
- A ti te gusta el fútbol. (You like soccer) — singular/masculine
- A mí me gustan las papas fritas. (I like French fries) — plural/feminine
- A ella le gusta estudiar. (She likes to study) — infinitive verb, so no pronoun
What’s that Juan? You can also use gustar with verbs? Well, of course, thanks for asking! If you want to talk about activities you like, you may use gustar + verbs! Just check my video about pasatiempos (hobbies), where I give you great tips on this!
A mí me gusta leer los comentarios (I enjoy reading the comments), so why don’t you go and type: ¿qué te gusta y qué no te gusta? (What do you like and what don’t you like?)
FREE Spanish Training
¡Muy bien! Now you know how to express likes and dislikes! ¿Te gustó el artículo? (Did you like the article?) Then subscribe to our channel and like the video corresponding to it, as well as our series of Spanish beginner videos!
Now, si te gustaría aprender más español (if you’d like to learn more Spanish — see what I did there?), we have a free Spanish training on our website where you'll be able to get many more chunks like the examples included in this article! Chunks are part of the method we use in our Spring Spanish Academy to teach students to speak fluent Spanish. You also get some free sample Spanish lessons there that come straight from our Academy!