Eating and Drinking

You'll find the following set of verbs especially helpful when ordering in a restaurant, shopping in a grocery store, or just talking about your culinary likes and dislikes:

  • comer: to eat

  • beber: to drink

  • querer: to want

  • necesitar: to need

  • gustar: to like, to be pleasing to

  • And don't forget about tomar (Chapter 6), which means “to take” but is also used to mean “to drink” and, less often, “to eat.”

    COMER: to eat

    yo como (KOH-moh)

    tú comes (KOH-mehs)

    él, ella, usted come (KOH-meh)

    nosotros comemos (koh-MEH-mohs)

    vosotros coméis (koh-MEHYS)

    ellos, ellas, ustedes comen (KOH-mehn)

    Armed with the verb comer, you can tell the waiter that you don't eat certain foods, or use it in any number of situations:

    Yo no como carne.

    I don't eat meat.

    Juan Carlos siempre come almuerzo.

    Juan Carlos always eats lunch.

    Ustedes comen demasiado.

    You eat too much.

    BEBER: to drink

    yo bebo (BEH-boh)

    tú bebes (BEH-behs)

    él, ella, usted bebe (BEH-beh)

    nosotros bebemos (beh-BEH-mohs)

    vosotros bebéis (beh-BEHYS)

    ellos, ellas, ustedes beben (BEH-behn)

    Beber is used to talk about drinking, although sometimes tomar is used instead:

    La niña bebe leche.

    The girl drinks milk.

    ¿Por qué bebes tanto café?

    Why do you drink so much coffee?

    Ellos beben gaseosa cuando comen pizza.

    They drink soda when they eat pizza.

    Billy toma su té en el patio.

    Billy drinks his tea on the patio.

    QUERER: to want

    yo quiero (kee-YEHR-oh)

    tú quieres (kee-YEHR-ehs)

    él, ella, usted quiere (kee-YEHR-eh)

    nosotros queremos (keh-REH-mohs)

    vosotros queréis (keh-REHYS)

    ellos, ellas, ustedes quieren (kee-YEHR-ehn)

    In Spanish, the verb querer is used to mean “want” in the sense of liking or needing something:

    ¿Qué queréis comer?

    What would you like to eat?

    ¿Quieres más agua?

    Do you want more water?

    No quiero pimienta.

    I don't want pepper.

    Also note that to ask for what you would like, you need to use the imperfect subjunctive form of querer:

    QUERER in Imperfect Subjunctive

    yo quisiera (kee-see-EHR-ah)

    tú quisieras (kee-see-EHR-ahs)

    él, ella, usted quisiera (kee-see-EHR-ah)

    nosotros quisiéramos (kee-see-EHR-ah-mohs)

    vosotros quisierais (kee-see-EHR-ahys)

    ellos, ellas, ustedes quisieran (kee-see-EHR-ahn)

    Using querer in the imperfect subjunctive is a polite way of asking for something. For example:

    Quisiera un vaso de agua, por favor.

    I would like a glass of water, please.

    Quisiéramos ver la carta, por favor.

    We would like to see the menu, please.

    NECESITAR: to need

    yo necesito (neh-seh-SEE-toh)

    tú necesitas (neh-seh-SEE-tahs)

    él, ella, usted necesita (neh-seh-SEE-tah)

    nosotros necesitamos (neh-seh-see-TAH-mohs)

    vosotros necesitáis (neh-seh-see-TAHYS)

    ellos, ellas, ustedes necesitan (neh-seh-SEE-tahn)

    When you need something, don't be afraid to say it with necesitar:

    Necesito más pan, por favor.

    I need more bread, please.

    Ella necesita ir al doctor.

    She needs to go to the doctor.

    Los niños necesitan comer menos dulces.

    The children need to eat fewer sweets.

    Liking and Being Liked

    The verb gustar is a little different from other verbs. In English, you say “I like something.” In Spanish, however, the expression is me gusta — literally, “to me, it's liked.” The difference is that the subject in the Spanish sentence isn't “I” — it's what you like!

    If the “liked” object is singular, use gusta (third person singular form). If the object is plural, use gustan (third person plural form).

    GUSTAR: equivalent of “to like”

    me gusta(n) (meh GOO-stah/stahn)

    te gusta(n) (teh GOO-stah/stahn)

    le gusta(n) (leh GOO-stah/stahn)

    nos gusta(n) (nohs GOO-stah/stahn)

    os gusta(n) (ohs GOO-stah/stahn)

    les gusta(n) (lehs GOO-stah/stahn)

    El café te gusta.

    You like coffee. (Literally, “Coffee is pleasing to you.”)

    A mí no me gustan los gatos.

    I don't like cats.

    No nos gusta el pan.

    We don't like bread.

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