Likes and Dislikes

The verb that will help you indicate your preferences is gustar. To translate, “I like hamburgers,” use gustar, but switch the subject and object around, so that the subject is what pleases you (hamburgers) and the object is “I”: me gustan las hamburguesas—literally, “hamburgers please me.” Now take a look at some other examples:

Because the subject of these sentences is something that is liked, it can either be singular or plural, but it is always in third person, so you only have gusta and gustan as verb choices (assume you stay in the present tense). As for the object, it is always an indirect object pronoun: me, you, him, her, it, us, them (for a review of indirect object pronouns, refer back to Chapter 13). Listen to Track 59 and take a look at the following examples.

Me gusta el café. I like coffee.
Me gustan las flores. I like flowers.
Te gusta el café. You like coffee.
Te gustan las flores. You like flowers.
Le gusta el café. He/she likes coffee. / You like coffee. (usted)
Le gustan las flores. He/she likes flowers. / You like flowers. (usted)
Nos gusta el café. We like coffee.
Nos gustan las flores. Os gustael café. We like flowers.
Os gustan las flores. You like coffee. (vosotros)
Les gusta el café. They like coffee. / You like coffee. (ustedes)
Les gustan las flores. They like flowers. / You like flowers. (ustedes)

So what if what you like is not a thing, but an action? For example, how would you say “I like to travel”? Think of this phrase as “I like traveling.” Since “traveling” may be thought of in the singular, you would say Me gusta viajar.

In Combination with Gustar

Keep in mind that as simple as this construction is to use, there are certain combinations of words that may change what you mean to say. For instance, be careful to put the modifier in the right place—generally in back of what you want modified. Compare the following:

Me gusta mucho viajar. I really like to travel.
Me gusta viajar mucho. I like to travel a lot/often.

Untranslatable redundant constructions may also be used to emphasize or clarify the indirect object. Listen to Track 60 and review the following examples.

A mí me gusta el boxeo.El boxeo me gusta a mí. I like boxing.
A ti te gusta la ópera.La ópera te gusta a ti. You like the opera.
A él le gusta María. María le gusta a él. He likes Maria.
A ella le gustan los perros. Los perros le gustan a ella. She likes dogs.
A usted le gusta la pesca. Lapesca le gusta a usted. You like fishing.
A nosotros nos gusta el vino.El vino nos gusta a nosotros. We like wine.
A vosotros os gusta el chocolate.El chocolate os gusta a vosotros. You like chocolate.
A nosotras nos gusta el ajo.El ajo nos gusta a nosotras. We like garlic.
A ellos les gusta el té.El té les gusta a ellos. They like tea.
A ellas les gusta la cerveza.La cerveza les gusta a ellas. They like beer.
A ustedes les gusta el actor. El actor les gusta a ustedes. You like the actor.

In the Negative

To state these statements in the negative, place no before the indirect object. “I don't like boxing” may be translated into Spanish in three ways, as follows:

No me gusta el boxeo.

A mí no me gusta el boxeo.

El boxeo no me gusta a mí.

Not Just in the Present

The verb gustar may also appear in other tenses. For instance, take a look at the following sentences. Can you recognize the tense of each one?

Me gustaba el ajedrez. I used to like chess.
Nos ha gustado viajar a Limadesde pequeños. We have liked to travel to Lima since we were little.
Te gustará mi amiga. You will like my (girl) friend.

¿Qué te gusta?

Translate the following sentences, using the appropriate form of gustar and vocabulary learned in the previous section. Use your English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English dictionary to look up words you don't already know. Then, check your answers.

1. You (informal, plural) like talking with my friends.

___________________________________________

2. They like to work.

___________________________________________

3. We like rice and chicken.

___________________________________________

4. You (informal, singular) used to like the Johnsons.

___________________________________________

5. You (formal, plural) liked Spain.

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