In Spanish, the verb gustar and all "inverted verbs" can be used in all tenses.
Learn about the Spanish verb gustar in past tenses
The structure in any past tense follows the same rule as in the present tense.
To revise gustar in El Presente see:
- Using gustar in Spanish + verb to say like [doing something]
- Using gustar in Spanish to say you like something
Just like in the present tense, when conjugating in any past tenses, the verb still takes the form of the 3rd person:
- 3rd person singular, i.e. the él/ella form (gustó, gustaba, ha gustado, había gustado...) for singular subjects
- 3rd person plural, i.e. the ellos/ellas form (gustaron, gustaban, han gustado, habían gustado...) for plural subjects
We must identify the subject of the sentence to make it agree with the verb form.
Here are some examples with different past tenses and different verbs:
Spanish gustar and similar verbs in El Pretérito Indefinido
Spanish gustar and similar verbs in El Pretérito Imperfecto
Spanish gustar and similar verbs in El Pretérito Perfecto
Spanish gustar and similar verbs in El Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto
In the examples above, notice how when the subject (underlined in the examples) is:
- singular then the verb is conjugated in the 3rd person singular of that tense (remember that an infinitive is considered a "singular thing")
- plural then the verb is conjugated in the 3rd person plural of that tense.
Remember that when the subject is an infinitive, the verb gustar is used in the singular form.
Despite having a plural object (artículos), it is still "me gustó", not "me gustaron" because of the use of the infinitive.
If we omit the infinitive though, we need the verb in the plural form.
Also notice how the indirect object pronouns, which indicate the person who is doing the liking, being bored, disturbed, interested etc., is always placed in front of the conjugated verb.
When the indirect object pronoun is plural (e.g. les, nos) indicating that more than one person is affected by the verb, it is a common mistake to think that the verb needs to agree with the plural indirect object pronoun and so we add the -n to the verb (e.g. gustaban, molestaban). This is wrong. Instead, we need to link the verb to the subject, which is the "activity or thing". Let's look at an example.
This is a common mistake:
"They loved the present":
- Incorrect: Les encantaron el regalo.
- Correct: Les encantó el regalo.
When seeing the plural indirect object pronoun "les" we may think we need the verb to be "plural" also, but in this example we don't because the subject (activity/thing) is singular (el regalo).
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