Power verbs in Spanish: Gustar (to like)

When you first start learning Spanish you need to learn the most common verbs to help you form questions and basic needs and wants. One of the most important verbs to know is “gustar” (to like) so that you can express what you like, what you don’t like and ask other people what they like. This verb works a bit differently to most verbs as you also need the pronoun in front to say who likes the thing.

In this blog post we will look at how to use this important Spanish verb “gustar”:

In Spanish they structure the sentence in the opposite way to us. ‘Back to front’ if you like.

Me gusta bailar. = I like dancing. (I like to dance)
Dancingit pleasesme.
Me tells you it is “I” who likes it.
Gusta = it pleases (because when followed by a verb, it is singular so they use the “it” subject ending.)
Bailar = to dance.

If the thing that is liked is plural the “gusta” becomes “gustan (they please).

Me gustan los plátanos. = I like bananas.
Bananasthey pleaseme.

Note: Always use the definite article (el, la, los, las) when you talk about liking something.

Let’s look at which pronoun you need to use to talk about different people:

Me gusta/n = I like
Te gusta/n = You like (one person)
* Le gusta/n = He/She/You (formal) like/s
Nos gusta/n = We like
Os gusta/n = You all like
Les gusta/n = They like

* When you include a person’s name to say what “he/she” likes, you also need to add “A” before the person’s name.

e.g. “A Pedro le gusta cantar” = Pedro likes singing.
[Literally: To Pedro it pleases him to sing.]

Negative likes

To say I don’t like, you just place “no” before the pronoun:
No me gusta el queso. = I don’t like cheese.

Forming questions

To form a question, just keep the same order but use intonation to raise the tone of your voice to make it sound like you are asking a question:

¿Te gusta el fútbol? = Do you like football? (one person)

To ask 2 or more people:

¿Os gusta el fútbol? = Do you like football? (2+ people)

To ask someone who is older or who you don’t know that well:

¿Le gusta el fútbol? = Do you like football? (one person, formal)

Or 2 or more people that you don’t know well:

¿Les gusta el fútbol? = Do you like football? (2+ people, formal)

Quiz

How would you say the following?

1. I like travelling.
2. You like reading.
3. Juan likes squid.
4. Maria likes cooking.
5. We like swimming.
6. Do you (2+) like cycling?
7. They don’t like running.
8. I don’t like seafood.
9. Do you like prawns?
10. We don’t like eating late.

Answers:

1. Me gusta viajar.
2. Te gusta leer.
3. A Juan le gustan los calamares.
4. A María le gusta cocinar.
5. Nos gusta nadar.
6. ¿Os gusta montar en bicicleta?
7. Les gusta correr.
8. No me gustan los mariscos.
9. ¿Te gustan las gambas?
10. No nos gusta comer tarde.