Grammar & Vocabulary

Verbs like “gustar”

Ray-pizza3
«Nos encanta la pizza». / Americasroof , CC BY-SA 2.5

Here is a short lesson on gustar and other similar verbs.

Level: Intermediate

Some verbs in Spanish use the same construction as gustar: a thing or a person does an action to us, the objects. This is sometimes confusing for English speakers. As you probably know, when, for example, we want to say we like apples, in Spanish, we’ll have to phrase it “apples are pleasing to us.” Below are some examples with verb gustar. (Remember that, with these types of verbs, we always have to use the article with nouns when we mean “in general”: las manzanas — for apples in general, los gatos — for cats in general, etc.)

Example: Literal translation Meaning
Me gustan las manzanas. Apples (in general) are pleasing to me. I like apples.
Me gustan los gatos. Cats (in general) are pleasing to me. I like cats.
Me gusta la pizza. Pizza (in general) is pleasing to me. I like pizza.
Me gusta María. María is pleasing to me. I like María.
Me gustas. You are pleasing to me. I like you.
Te gusto. I am pleasing to you. You like me.

Here are some other verbs that behave in the same way:

Encantar (lit. “to charm”)

We use it for expressing “to like something/someone a lot”

Here are some examples:

Example: Literal translation Meaning
Me encantan las manzanas. Apples (in general) charm me. I like apples a lot.
Me encantan los gatos. Cats (in general) charm me. I like cats a lot.
Me encanta la pizza. Pizza (in general) charms me. I like pizza a lot.
Me encanta María. María charms me. I like María a lot.
Me encantas. You charm me. I like you a lot.
Te encanto. I charm you. You like me a lot.

Doler (to hurt/to ache)

We have the expression “my head hurts” in English. In Spanish, however, we take it further and phrase it “the head hurts me.” We do the same with other parts of the body.

Example: Literal translation Meaning
Me duele la cabeza. The head hurts me. My head hurts/aches/I’ve got a headache.
Me duele la pierna. The leg hurts me. My leg hurts.
Me duele tanto… It hurts me so much… It hurts so much…

Molestar (to bother/to annoy)

This one is used in the same way in English and in Spanish: things or people bother us. In Spanish, we frequently reverse the order: we place the verb first followed by the subject.

Example: Meaning
Me molesta este ruido. This noise annoys me/bothers me.
¿Te estoy molestando? Am I bothering you?
No me molestes. Don’t bother me.

Importar (to matter/to be important)

Again, the use in English and Spanish is very similar. Things matter (or do not matter) to us.

Example: Meaning
No me importa eso. That doesn’t matter/is not important to me.
No le importa esto. This doesn’t matter/is not important to him/her.
A los accionistas les importa la decisión. The decision matters to the shareholders.

Practice:

Write 2 sentences with gustar, 2 with encantar, 2 with doler, 2 with molestar, and 2 with importar.

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