The Spanish Verb «Gustar» means «to be pleasing». We use it to tell the things we like, the things that «are pleasing» to us.
Constructing sentences with the verb «gustar» can be challenging at first for the Spanish learner, because the structure of the sentence is different that with most other verbs.
In this lesson, you will understand how to construct sentences with «gustar», using what we will call the «2 Blocks Model»
Gustar and the «2 Blocks Model»
In order to learn the use of the Verb Gustar, we are going to imagine 2 Blocks. Here they are:
These blocks have the following properties:
- Each block contains ALWAYS more than one word. It is impossible that it contains only one.
- The first word of Block 1 is always “a”
- The first word of Block 2 is always a very short personal pronoun, one of these: me, te, le, nos, os, les
Example: the 1st Person
Now that we have made a first approach to this model, let’s illustrate it with an example Sentence. This is how we say in Spanish «Ketchup is pleasing to me»:
There they are, the 2 blocks!
The properties of the blocks are fulfilled: Both blocks contain more than one word. The first one starts with “a”, and the second one with a short personal pronoun («me»)
All The Persons
Until now we have only seen the first person («something is pleasing to me«). Let’s now learn how the 2 Blocks look for each person:
Block 1 Block 2
a mí me gusta(n)
a ti te gusta(n)
a mi amigo
a nosotros nos gusta(n)
a vosotros os gusta(n)
a mis padres
a los españoles
Did you notice that for the 3rd person (both singular and plural) there are several options for Block 1? Of course! That is because we can be talking about different people: «something is pleasing to him», or «to her», or «to María»… That’s why Block 1 has more possibilities for the 3rd Person singular and plural.
Choosing «Gusta» or «Gustan»
If you look at the table above for all persons, you will notice that the verb «gustar» itself is used either in the form «gusta» or in the form «gustan», independently of the person.
The reason is that, as we have learned, the literal meaning of the verb “gustar” is not actually “to like”, but “to be pleasing”. For that reason, it needs to match not the person, but the thing (or THINGS) which is (or ARE) pleasing. And because of that, 99% of the times it is either used in the form «gusta» (for a singular thing) or «gustan» (for a plural things).
In the following examples, «el fútbol» is singular, whereas «las patatas fritas» is plural:
No need to use both blocks, no need to keep a strict order
We don’t need to always use both blocks. Most times, Block 2 is enough. For example, to say «Ketchup is pleasing to me», I may just say:
We use both Blocks only if we want to put special emphasis on the person.
Also, the order in which we place the Blocks is not strict. We can play with the order of the Blocks pretty much any way we want. All the following sentences have the same meaning:
As long as we respect the internal properties of the Blocks themselves, we have great freedom to play with their order.
Do know that there are other Verbs which work exactly like «Gustar», using the same «2 Blocks Model» we just learned? Click here and learn about other verbs like «Gustar».