how to use gustar

How to Use Gustar in Spanish: Meaning, Conjugation and Grammar Rules

Me gustan las películas de terror. (I like horror movies.)

Do you see any difference in the construction between the Spanish and English versions?

Write down what you think the difference is before you keep reading.

In this post, you’ll learn exactly how to use the Spanish verb gustar, how to conjugate it, what its grammar rules are, when to use it and more.


Introduction to Gustar

If you look up the verb gustar  in a dictionary, you’ll get translations such as “to like,” “to taste,” “to enjoy” and “to be pleasing,” among others.

However, gustar is not a regular Spanish verb.

Here’s a breakdown of how to conjugate it:

Object PronounSpanishTranslation
A míme gusta(n)I like
A tite gusta(n)You like
A ella/él/ustedle gusta(n)He/she/you (formal) likes
A nosotrosnos gusta(n)We like
A vosotrosos gusta(n)You (plural) like
A ellos/ellas/ustedesles gusta(n)They/you (plural) like

Instead of changing according to the pronoun, gustar changes depending on the quantity of the noun that follows it. This is why you’d say gusta for singular objects and gustan for plurals.

For example:

Me gusta esta película. (I like this movie.)

Me gustan las películas de terror. (I like horror movies.)

You can also slightly change the sentence structure and place gustar at the end. For example:

Las películas de terror me gustan. (I like horror movies. Literally: “horror movies are pleasing to me.”)

3 Differences Between Gustar and “To Like”

1. Using gustar changes the word order of the sentence.

Take a look at this example:

Nos gustan los fuegos artificiales. (We like fireworks. Literally: Fireworks are pleasing to us.)

If fireworks are what we like, they are the sentence’s subject. So why do they appear at the end?

Well, gustar uses a different sentence structure than other Spanish verbs. It follows this structure:

object pronoun (nos) + verb (gustan) + subject (los fuegos artificiales)

2. The conjugation of gustar depends on the thing being liked.

There’s another big difference between gustar and “to like.” In English, the verb is conjugated like normal and refers to the person doing the liking (I like, you like, he likes…).

In Spanish, the verb is conjugated according to the thing we like, which is the subject.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

Me gusta el chocolate. (I like chocolate. — “chocolate” is singular)

Me gusta la pizza. (I like pizza. — “pizza” is singular)

Me gustan los libros. (I like books. — “books” is plural)

Me gustan las tormentas. (I like thunderstorms. — “thunderstorms” is plural)

Remember that gustar only has two possible forms (gusta and gustan), depending on whether the subject is singular or plural.

3. Gustar requires an indirect object.

The final difference we can see between English and Spanish is the object of the sentences.

English needs a direct object (DO) after “to like”—a direct object answers the question “what?” or “who?”:

“I like ice cream.” (What do I like? Ice cream.)

“We like romantic movies.” (What do we like? Romantic movies.)

But Spanish requires an indirect object (IO), which answers the question “to what?” or “to whom?”:

Me gusta el helado. (“Ice cream is pleasing to me.” To whom? To me.)

Nos gustan las películas románticas. (“Romantic movies are pleasing to us.” To whom? To us — IO.)

The next section covers this more in-depth.

Spanish Indirect Objects and Gustar

When using gustar, the indirect object comes first.

You don’t even have to consider what you like or the conjugation of gustar! Just add the appropriate indirect object and forget about it.

If you need a refresher on your indirect object pronouns, check out our in-depth post on them here.

These examples should help solidify everything for you:

A María le gusta la tarta de manzana. (María likes apple pie.)

Me gusta Halloween. (I like Halloween.)

Nos gustan los deportes extremos. (We like extreme sports.)

Les gustan las películas italianas. (They like Italian movies.)

You must remember to transform the English subject into the indirect object of the Spanish sentence if you don’t want to sound weird, as you will see in the next section.

Me Gusta vs. Me Gusto

At the beginning of this post, I said you can’t conjugate the verb gustar as if it were a regular verb. This is not entirely true.

You can indeed conjugate it in every pronoun. Have a look:

Me gusto

Te gustas

Se gusta

Nos gustamos

Os gustáis

Se gustan

But as you can see, it’s a reflexive verb. What does this imply?

Simply put, if you say “me gusto,” you’re saying you like yourself. That might make people think that you’re slightly conceited.

Spanish speakers are very aware of this, and they generally don’t use gustar as a reflexive verb unless they really need to, like in these examples:

Si nos gustamos tanto, ¿por qué no estamos juntos? (If we like each other so much, why are we not together?)

Juan es muy creído. Se gusta demasiado. (Juan is very conceited. He likes himself too much.)

Me gusto más cuando estoy contigo. (I like myself better when I am with you.)


And there you have it! If you practice using gustar and always remember to put the indirect object first, the rest is just a walk in the park!

Seeing gustar used in real contexts will make you more confident when using it. For that, you can practice with authentic Spanish media, like Spanish books, music, TV shows and FluentU’s thousands of videos.

The clips on FluentU come with interactive subtitles that provide word translations and grammar information, including for gustar in its different conjugations.

Gustar makes it easy to express what you like and dislike. Learn how to use it correctly, and your Spanish-speaking friends will be impressed!

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