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

Yo le gusto.
He/she likes me.


me gustas.
I like you.


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


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.


Q&A

Alan

Kwiziq community member

11 June 2018

1 reply

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.

Shui

Kwiziq language super star

12 June 2018

12/06/18

¡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

Getting that for you now.