Some verbs in Spanish use an indirect object pronoun instead of the subject that would appear in an English translation. The subject in an English sentence becomes the indirect object in Spanish. The most recognizable verb in this category is "Gustar," which many native English-speakers translate as "to like" when it really means "to be pleasing" making the object that is pleasing the subject and the person to whom it is pleasing, the indirect object.
Addendum by kenhuizenga 6/22/2015:
To help English speakers to understand this construction, it may be helpful to think of a sentence such as "Le gusta bailar" as "Dancing gives him/her pleasure" rather than "Dancing pleases him/her." Now, you can think of "pleasure" as the direct object (the thing being given) and "him/her" as the indirect object, the person who is receiving the direct object--pleasure. The direct object "pleasure" does not actually appear in the Spanish sentence, but thinking of the construction this way can help you to understand why an indirect object pronoun is used instead of a direct object pronoun. In essence, "Le gusta" means the same thing as "Le da gusto" or "Le da placer" (it gives him/her pleasure) where, because of the the verb dar = to give, it is easy to see that "le" is an indirect object pronoun. This same type of thinking can be used with any other verb that takes an indirect object in Spanish where we are accustomed to using a direct object in English.
These verbs all have mandatory indirect objects which require an indirect object pronoun. Sentences may begin or end with the indirect object and may or may not include the preposition "a" plus a pronoun or noun which clarifies or emphasizes the indirect object. The verb is always conjugated to the main noun, which is the subject of the sentence, while the person is identified by the indirect object pronoun. If the sentence begins with an indirect object after the preposition a, the emphasis is placed on the person.
- Me agrada su visita. (I am pleased by your visit.)
- ¿Os interesaría ir al cine? (Are you interested in going to the movies?)
- A nosotros nos molesta el ruido. (We are bothered by the noise.)
- A muchas mujeres les encantan los cuentos de amor. (Many women really like love stories.)
If the sentence ends with the indirect object, more emphasis is placed on the subject instead of the person. In this manner, the sentences translate more literally into English.
- Los días tibios me gustan. (Warm days are pleasing to me.)
- Los coches deportivos le atraen. (Sports cars are attractive to her.)
- Lavar la ropa nos corresponde a nosotros. (Washing the clothes is our responsibility.)
- La política te interesa a ti. (Politics are interesting for you.)
Placement of the "a" + pronoun/noun
When the indirect object falls at the end of the sentence, the prepositional phrase such as "a mí" or "a nosotros" is placed after the verb instead of in front of the indirect object pronoun.
Below you will find a list of common verbs that function like "Gustar."
|Common Verbs like Gustar|
|aburrir||to bore||faltar||to be lacking|
|agradar||to please||fascinar||to fascinate|
|alegrar||to gladden||fastidiar||to annoy|
|apasionar||to love||gustar||to please|
|apetecer||to feel like||hacer falta||to be missed|
|atraer||to attract||importar||to matter|
|bastar||to be enough||interesar||to interest|
|caber||to fit, to fill||molestar||to bother|
|convenir||to be better for||parecer||to appear to be|
|corresponder||to be responsible for||picar||to itch|
|costar||to cost||preocupar||to worry|
|disgustar||to disgust||quedar||to remain|
|doler||to hurt||repugnar||to disgust|
|encantar||to delight||sobrar||to be left over|
|extrañar||to surprise||tocar||to be responsible for|
1) Using the prepositional phrases provided, fill in the blanks with the correct indirect object pronoun.
Example: A mí ___| gustan las flores amarillas. -> me
- A María ___| gusta bailar salsa.
- A Juanita y yo ___| encantan los chocolates.
- ¿A ti ___| alegra que vine?
- Los perros ___| fastidian a mí.
- Ir al cine ___| agrada a ellos.
2) Conjugate each verb in parenthesis to match the subject of the sentence. (Remember, the verb will is almost always in the 3rd person singular or plural.)
Example: A Juan le (gustar) caminar por el parque. -> gusta
- Nos (hacer) falta mucho nuestro amigo Juan.
- Me (atraer) los hombres guapos.
- Le (gustar) su traje.
- Te (faltar) dos capítulos para leer.
- Les (doler) los pies.