Using gustar to express personal attraction

The verb gustar is used in Spanish to express when a person finds another person attractive in that special romantic way! In the UK we often translate this as he fancies you, but in this lesson we will translate it as he likes you

In this case Spanish uses personal pronouns, i.e yo, tú, usted, él, ella, nosotros-as, vosotros-as, ellos-as.

The verb gustar in these cases functions as a "normal" conjugated verb which is different to how you use gustar when you want to express that you like something or like doing something. Find the link at the bottom of the lesson to revise this. 

Most importantly, the subject in these sentences is the person who is liked, not the person who is doing the liking. This can cause confusion for learners. It can help to think of the literal translation, to say you like me, you literally have to say I am pleasing to you. See below.

Let's see how this works in El Presente:

yo gusto
gustas
él / ella / Ud. gusta
nosotros /nosotras  gustamos
vosotros / vosotras   gustáis
ellos / ellas / Uds.  gustan

Take a look at this sentence that means You like me but which can more literally be translated as I am pleasing to you:

Yo te gusto a ti.
You like me.

Both te and a ti refer to the person I am pleasing to, in this case you. In fact, a ti reinforces te. We can omit a ti and the meaning of the sentence does not change:

Yo te gusto.
You like me.

And, as you may be aware, in Spanish we often omit the subject pronouns, so you can also say:

Te gusto.
You like me.

More examples

me gustas.
I like you.

Yo le gusto.
He/she likes me.

le gustas.
He/she likes you.

Vosotros le gustáis.
He/she fancies you (plural).

Ella le gusta.
He/she likes her.

Ellos le gustan.
He/she fancies them.

Nosotros te gustamos a ti.
You like us.

Vosotras me gustáis a mí.
I like you (plural).

Ellas os gustan a vosotros.
You (plural) like them (plural).

The pronouns underlined in the examples above show who is doing the liking  which in Spanish are indirect object pronouns because this structure can be literally translated as Someone is pleasing/attractive to someone.

We can omit [without changing any meaning]:

    1. the subject (Yo, tú...)
    2. the pronouns with a (a ti, a mí, a ella...)

But the indirect object (te, me, le...) cannot be omitted.

Grammatical structure

For learners, the main complexity of these sentences is the "inversion" of the subject when we compare it to the construction in English. Take this example:

Yo te gusto = You like me

Yo te gusto = You like me

Yo (I) = subject
te (to you) = indirect object
gusto (am pleasing) = verb

You like meYo te gusto

You like meYo te gusto

You = subject
like = verb
me = direct object

Notice how the subject in the Spanish sentence (yo) becomes the object in the English sentence (me). And the object in the Spanish sentence (te) becomes the subject in the English sentence (you).

Reciprocity or liking each other

When the "liking" is reciprocal (i.e liking each other) then we will use the plural reflexive pronounsnos, os, se.

Have a look at the following examples:

Nosotras nos gustamos mucho.
We like each other a lot.

Vosotros os gustáis mucho.
You (plural) like each other a lot.

Ellos se gustan mucho.
They like/fancy each other a lot.

 See also Using gustar to say you like something.

 

Examples and resources

Vosotros os gustáis mucho.
You (plural) like each other a lot.


Vosotros le gustáis.
He/she fancies you (plural).


Ellos le gustan.
He/she fancies them.


Ellas os gustan a vosotros.
You (plural) like them (plural).


Nosotras nos gustamos mucho.
We like each other a lot.


Yo te gusto.
You like me.


le gustas.
He/she likes you.


Ellos se gustan mucho.
They like/fancy each other a lot.


Ella le gusta.
He/she likes her.


Nosotros te gustamos a ti.
You like us.


Yo le gusto.
He/she likes me.


me gustas.
I like you.


Vosotras me gustáis a mí.
I like you (plural).


Q&A Forum 3 questions, 6 answers

Manu chao

I suggest another song suitable for practicing: Me gustas tu by Manu chao.

Asked 1 week ago

Hola Emanuel, 

Gracias por esta recomendación. That was nice of you.

Nicole

Oh, I forgot to mention, I really like the song too!

InmaKwiziq language super star

That's been noted! 

(I love it too...)

Inma

Manu chao

I suggest another song suitable for practicing: Me gustas tu by Manu chao.

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Conjugated gustar

Hi, I was a bit surprised to see this use of "gustar" as none of the books I have mention this usage i.e. Barron's 501 verbs, shows only that this verb is  used in the third person, etc.    Would it be a Iberian usage?  I am in Canada and study Latin American Spanish [looking forward to that distinction in your program:) -- any news on that?]

Thank you. Nicole

Asked 2 months ago
InmaKwiziq language super star

Hi Nicole,

yes, it is true that this usage of verb gustar is not what you normally find in the content forgustar. It is only when doing more advanced Spanish when you come across it. It is not only used in Spain, it is also used in Latin America. Here is a song called "Me gustas mucho" by a Mexican singer called Lucero. The chorus starts after minute 1. Have a listen...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWjxGSixv_g

And I am also referring you to another advance lesson on gustar used in a different way. This is level C1, which is also unusual to find Using gustar de [algo/hacer algo] to express likes formally

I hope this helps you extend your knowledge about this very famous Spanish verb...

Inma

Gracias Inma,

I read the article and enjoyed the video - great song - and thank you for this special touch. 

Nicole

Conjugated gustar

Hi, I was a bit surprised to see this use of "gustar" as none of the books I have mention this usage i.e. Barron's 501 verbs, shows only that this verb is  used in the third person, etc.    Would it be a Iberian usage?  I am in Canada and study Latin American Spanish [looking forward to that distinction in your program:) -- any news on that?]

Thank you. Nicole

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A suggestion

I do find this confusing even though I understand the grammatical logic behind it. But my (temporary) solution is to get away from thinking in English and adopt the Spanish viewpoint. So I think “I please you” (te gusto); “you please me” (me gustas); “he pleases them” (les gusta) etc. , rather than "you fancy me"......


I believe it’s better as a general principle to try to think in the target language, rather than translate from your own language into the target language.

Hope this helps.

Asked 1 year ago
ShuiKwiziq language super star

¡Hola Alan!

We came to the conclusion when we created this lesson that giving the most common/natural translation in English would be the way most people coming to this concept for the first time would understand it better. We understand your point of view, of course, and it really is also a valid literal translation and we do use it in the lesson, just not in the direct translations of the examples. Thanks for sharing your views with us, I'll add an extra note to the lesson to emphasize this.

Gracias

Shui

A suggestion

I do find this confusing even though I understand the grammatical logic behind it. But my (temporary) solution is to get away from thinking in English and adopt the Spanish viewpoint. So I think “I please you” (te gusto); “you please me” (me gustas); “he pleases them” (les gusta) etc. , rather than "you fancy me"......


I believe it’s better as a general principle to try to think in the target language, rather than translate from your own language into the target language.

Hope this helps.

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