Why does encantar act like gustar even though it means "to love" and not "to be loved"?

Why does encantar act like gustar even though it means "to love" and not "to be loved"?


I am curious about this. I see the following irregular pattern verbs. Gustar = to be pleasing. Therefore, Me gusta el carro, me gustan las manzanas. Me gustas mucho, Ellos les gusto yo... Faltar = to be needed. Therefore, Me hace falta un carro, Me hace faltan los zapatos... Me encanta ese arból, Me encantan las mujeres.

I think there are only a handful of verbs that fall forward onto their nouns instead of backward onto their pronouns... so I wonder why encantar is one. Also I have heard that encantarse means to be delighted by and yet encantarse is not in our dictionary....thanks...

updated OCT 7, 2011
posted by jeezzle

4 Answers


Hi Jeezle,

Why does encantar act like gustar even though it means "to love" and not "to be loved"?

"to be" or "not to be" is that the question? (sorry I couldn't resist).

In all seriousness, don't forget that in the present indicative, verbs can take on the "to be" or not depending on what makes the most sense with the provided context and the way in which the sentence is constructed. In the (simple) present indicative the verb refers to an action that is happening as we speak, and can often be interchangeable with the present continuous. So gusta can be taken to mean it pleases but it can also be taken to mean it is pleasing. Similarly, encantar can be taken to mean both it enchants and it is enchanting.

I think there are only a handful of verbs that fall forward onto their nouns instead of backward onto their pronouns

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by this, but I believe you may be thinking about the use of these verbs intransitively versus transitively. For a transitive verb usage, the action of the verb must fall directly on an object or person (i.e. it must take a direct object). Meanwhile, intransitive verbs do not imply a direct influence or don't take a direct object. Verbs, when used like gustar are used intransitively and take an indirect object. All things considered, the following sentences can be more literally translated as follows:

Me gusta las manzanas

1). For me they (apples) please (right now that is what they are doing, there is something in their nature that is pleasing to me, which leads to the following construct)

2). Apples are pleasing to me

Obviously the second sentence translates better into English and I would stick with it. Just try to remember, when thinking about the way these types of this way the action of the verb does not actually fall directly onto the person (or object). The apple is not actively pleasing somebody, but it has a pleasing taste to that person. Similarly, when used intransitively, encantar can be used to say:

Me encantan las manzanas

1) For me apples are enchanting (I really like/love apples)

Obviously the apples are not actively enchanting someone. Instead it is something about them that is enchanting to or for someone.

Interestingly, the verb encantar can also be used transitively to mean the actual act of enchanting or casting a spell on someone/something. For example:

Esa bruja encantó a Snow White con su manzana mágica - That witch enchanted Snow White with her magic apple.

This would be different than saying

A Snow White le encantó esa bruja - That witch was enchanting to Snow White

If you compare the two sentences closely, you should be able to see the difference in which these verbs are used when used like gustar versus how they are used when they take a direct object.

In one case, the witch can be enchanting to you. [you really like/love her - the effect is indirect as with gustar]

or she can be enchanting you [she is casting a spell on you as we speak - she is acting directly on you]

updated OCT 7, 2011
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
me gustaN las manzanas :) - Kiwi-Girl, OCT 7, 2011

"encantar" is etymologically related to the English "enchant" so it should actually be easier to use than "gustar". "Me encantó esa pelicula." = "That movie enchanted me." / "I was enchanted by that movie." In both of the English sentences, the "actor" of "enchant" is "the movie" and "I" (or "me") indicates the person affected by the "enchantment". There are, of course, many other ways of expressing the same thought in English that would reverse the grammatical roles of "I" and "movie". e.g. "I loved that movie." and others that would preserve the roles e.g. "That movie blew me away!"

updated NOV 20, 2009
posted by samdie

Reflexive verbs, like gustar (Me gusta - it is pleasing to me), are fairly common. Some verbs are rarely if ever used any other way (gustar being the star example). However, whenever you want to formulate a sentence where the thing is being done to you you can use a reflexive construction: Me levanto más temprano esta mañana - I got myself up very early this morning. See how you are doing it to yourself? That is a reflexive - it reflects back to you.

Unfortunately I know of no way to know which verbs are used in the reflexive other than to memorize them. :(

updated NOV 20, 2009
posted by Lasairfiona
Gustar is not used reflexively...it is used intransitively. In reflexive constructions the object and the subject of the sentence are the same...this is not true of verbs like gustar - Izanoni1, NOV 20, 2009

Hmm, for the same reason that to like does not mean to be liked.

A ellos les gusto yo.

I mean gustar and encantar have the same or very similar root in meaning. Same in English. You can argue there are other verbs with the same root too and they are conjugated "normally", but that is like asking why do we say read read read ....and pronounce it differently and all.

Faltar = to be needed. Therefore, Me hace falta un carro, Me hacen falta- los zapatos.

Faltar can also be conjugated as a verb, same structure as gustar:

Me falta un coche. Me falta un poco de azúcar.

updated NOV 20, 2009
posted by 00494d19
SpanishDict is the world's most popular Spanish-English dictionary, translation, and learning website.