Costar vs Costar a alguien algo

The verb "costar" can have different meanings depending on how it is used. The literal meaning is "to cost" as in costing money. But it can also be used to express "someone finds something difficult".

COSTAR (dinero)

Esas gafas cuestan 20 euros.
Those glasses cost 20 euros.

¿Cuánto cuesta la camiseta de rayas?
How much does the stripy t-shirt cost?

If you want to say "whom" it costs, you need an indirect object pronoun (me, te, le, nos, os, les) to reflect this. For example:

La casa nos costó solo 150 mil euros.
The house cost (us) only 150 thousand euros.

¿Cuánto te costaron esos pantalones?
How much did those trousers cost you?

COSTAR A ALGUIEN HACER ALGO

To express that "someone finds it difficult to do something" we use it like this:

Me cuesta creer que ella se haya ido para siempre.
I find it difficult to believe that she's gone for good.

Te cuesta relacionarte con los demás, ¿verdad?
You find it difficult to interact with others, don't you?

Les ha costado mucho adaptarse a ese pueblo tan pequeño.
They found it very difficult to adapt to that very small village.

The person who finds it difficult is expressed with the indirect object pronoun (me cuesta, te cuesta..., les ha costado...)

"What" is difficult is expressed with an infinitive (me cuesta creer..., te cuesta relacionarte..., les ha costado adaptarse...)

Remember that the pronoun is placed in front of the conjugated verb.

You can also use costar without a pronoun if you want to express that "people in general" find something difficult or "one" finds something difficult. For example:

Cuesta acostumbrarse a situaciones nuevas y desconocidas.
It is difficult to get used to new and unknown situations.

Cuesta creer que estamos en el siglo XXI.
It is difficult to believe that we are in the twenty-first century.

In negative sentences, the meaning often turns into "someone doesn't mind doing something/it is not a problem to do something". For example:

No nos cuesta nada llevaros a la estación. No está muy lejos.
We don't mind taking you to the station. It is not very far.

No le cuesta nada llevar los paquetes a correos.
It is no problem at all for him to take the parcels to the post office.

But it could still mean "someone doesn't find something difficult" when we are talking about skills:

A mi profesora no le cuesta pronunciar bien en francés.
My teacher doesn't find it difficult to pronounce French correctly.

Costar with an indirect object pronoun works like the verb gustar.

Here is a list of the most common "inverted" verbs.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Esas gafas cuestan 20 euros.
Those glasses cost 20 euros.


Te cuesta relacionarte con los demás, ¿verdad?
You find it difficult to interact with others, don't you?


Cuesta acostumbrarse a situaciones nuevas y desconocidas.
It is difficult to get used to new and unknown situations.


A mi profesora no le cuesta pronunciar bien en francés.
My teacher doesn't find it difficult to pronounce French correctly.


¿Cuánto te costaron esos pantalones?
How much did those trousers cost you?


Les ha costado mucho adaptarse a ese pueblo tan pequeño.
They found it very difficult to adapt to that very small village.


No nos cuesta nada llevaros a la estación. No está muy lejos.
We don't mind taking you to the station. It is not very far.


Me cuesta creer que ella se haya ido para siempre.
I find it difficult to believe that she's gone for good.


No le cuesta nada llevar los paquetes a correos.
It is no problem at all for him to take the parcels to the post office.


¿Cuánto cuesta la camiseta de rayas?
How much does the stripy t-shirt cost?


Cuesta creer que estamos en el siglo XXI.
It is difficult to believe that we are in the twenty-first century.


La casa nos costó solo 150 mil euros.
The house cost (us) only 150 thousand euros.


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