HomeQ&AThe dreaded 'gusta': actions and things

The dreaded 'gusta': actions and things


As my class was in Spanish and I thought I understood but now am confused could some help me clarify this:

Is there a difference in how gustar is conjugated in simple present tense between "pleasing" actions and things? In other words, "gusta" for nouns ("me gusta el libro") and "gustan" for actions ("me gustan ir al cine")?

Or have I misunderstood and "gustan" only applies to plur actions and things?

updated JUN 30, 2010
posted by Joshuabss1

6 Answers


In gustar-like sentences the subject commonly follows the verbs. So it is gusta or gustan depending on whether the subject is plural or singular just like with any other verb. (gustar can also be conjugated just like any other verb (gusto, gustas, etc.), but beginning students usually run across only the 3rd person forms)

What I think is confusing to you is that you often see an infinitive following gustar.

Me gusta ir al cine. (to use an example previously given)

Going to the movies is pleasing to me or I like going to the movies.

Ir here is not an action (verb). The verb infinitive in Spanish can serve as what would be an English gerund ("ing" form of verb serving as a noun).

In this example, the entire clause (ir al cine) or going to the movies forms a noun clause. These noun clauses are singular, hence, the singular form of the verb, gusta.

Me gusta pescar.

I like fishing or fishing is pleasing to me. The subject is a noun (gerund, fishing). It can also be considered a prepositional phrase (to fish) serving as a noun, but usually the infinitive is translated as the gerund or "ing form".

(and before you get confused down the line in your Spanish studies, when you are introduced to the Spanish gerund, it is not the same part of speech as the English gerund, i.e., not a noun) When you speak of gerunds it is best to always differentiate between the Spanish gerund (present participle) and the English gerund (noun).

¡Bienvenido al foro!

Welcome to the forum!

updated JUN 29, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
Wow. thank you for that response. I'm copying and pasting it for future reference. Thank you for the heads-up on gerunds. And yes I had been confused in terms of the following infinitive. - Joshuabss1, JUN 28, 2010
Perfect answer! - --Mariana--, JUN 29, 2010

Gustan is for plural.

updated JUN 29, 2010
posted by jeezzle

Gustar is to like as in Me gusta ese libro ...I like that book. Gustan is used for they/them as in A ellos le gustan bailar. If you wanted to use it with the pronoun I/Yo it would be A mi me gusta bailar.

Hope this helps

updated JUN 29, 2010
posted by cubanitatb
Yes it does. I clearly misunderstood what was being said in class. Thank you - Joshuabss1, JUN 28, 2010
Oops, this is wrong. Gustar's form follow the number of the direct object, not the indirect. - Deanski, JUN 28, 2010
a ellos le gustA bailar... - timothychongg, JUN 28, 2010
No, a ellos les gusta.. - Deanski, JUN 28, 2010
*follows - Deanski, JUN 28, 2010
The number of gustar is determined by the subject not an object (direct or indirect). - samdie, JUN 29, 2010

me gusta ir al cine

updated JUN 29, 2010
posted by timothychongg

I thought gustan was for plural of whatever you/he/she/they like? So if you're talking about el libro, it is gusta, but for los libros it is gustan. The plurality of the people that like it does not matter. That's how I understood it :/

updated JUN 30, 2010
posted by aclongo
So by that definition it is "me gusta el libro" and "les gusta el libro" but "me gustan los libros" and "les gustan los libros". Think I've got it and you've understood correctly. Unless I'm wrong of course. A classic refrain. - Joshuabss1, JUN 28, 2010
You got it now. - Deanski, JUN 28, 2010
yep you got it! the form of "gusta" depends on how many things are pleasing, the form of the pronoun depends on how many people find it pleasing. - aclongo, JUN 30, 2010

I hope you like this compilation for the use of gustar, you can find everything herewink

All about gustar

updated JUN 29, 2010
posted by 00494d19
Excellent. Thank you. - Joshuabss1, JUN 29, 2010
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