I think that the concept
of "verbs like gustar" might become clearer by seeing a literal
translation as well as the English interpretation/translation.
Is this the correct
sentence construction for "verbs like gustar"?
Indirect Object + verb like gustar + subject ?
Le entristece la mala noticia = The bad news saddens her.
the literal translation be: For her,
the news is saddening OR should
it be To her, the news saddens? Neither really make sense in English! “Her, the
news saddens = The news saddens her” and makes the verb transitive, no? And “her”
becomes the Direct Object “la” instead of the Indirect Object “le”. Can “entristecer”
be used as a transitive verb AND as a “verb like gustar”?
But surely the more correct Spanish would be:
Las malas noticias la entristecen OR la entristecen las malas noticias
both forms acceptable?
How then can I reconcile la in that last version with the le in the lesson version? "La" is a Direct Object while "le" is an
Indirect Object, no?
So, again, can “entristecer” be both transitive and a “verb
like gustar”? OR is either version incorrect?
Yes, with verbs like gustar it's quite difficult to give the exact perfect explanation as any attempt to translate it literally doesn't make sense in English. And it will also depends on each specific verb. We offer both the natural translation in English and something that would resemble a literal translation so that students get that it differs in both languages and the structures used in each are very different.
As for "entristecer", well, this verb belongs to a group of verbs called "verbos de afección psíquica" where both the direct and indirect object pronouns can be used. Using one or another will depend on various factors. In this case, as the subject is inanimate (las malas noticias) the usual tendency is the use of the indirect object pronoun (le, les) (like what we do with gustar).
But this usage is not very straight forward. Here's the explanation given by the RAE for "leísmo" in these type of verbs. If you go straight to 4. a you'll see. (it's in Spanish though).
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