How to use the verb “gustar” to express likes and dislikes

How to use the verb “gustar”

When we are learning a new language, one of the first things we should know is how to express our likes and dislikes.

We use this simple vocabulary whenever we visit new places, meet new people, or try foods.

Let’s begin!

Learning how to use the verb “gustar”

To express your likes and dislike, you need to learn first the verb “gustar” or to like in English.

This verb is somehow special. Its conjugation is not like the majority of verbs.

When conjugating the verb “gustar”, we don’t use personal pronouns (yo, tu, el, ella, nosotros, usted, ellos, ellas), instead, we use indirect object pronouns (me, te, nos, le.)

We use the verb “gustar” to:

  1. Express that we like or dislike an activity. In this case, we use the verb “gustar” with a verb in its infinitive form: Gustar + verb
  2. Express that we like or dislike an object, using the verb’s singular or plural form.

Verb “gustar”  +  other verbs

Let’s start with learning how to express our likes and dislikes of an activity.

There is a simple formula for this:

Indirect object pronoun + gusta + complementary verb (infinitive form)
Me + gusta + comer
I like to eat

Some examples are:

We say:
English Translation
Me gusta viajar
I like to travel
Te gusta pintar
You like to paint
Le gusta comer pizza
He/She likes eating pizza
Nos gusta escuchar música
We like listening to music
Les gusta cocinar juntos
You like cooking together
Les gusta bailar
They like to dance

In addition to indirect object pronouns, we often accompany the phrases with a prepositional pronoun (a mi, a ti, a él, a ella, a ellos, a nosotros, a ustedes) usually to reinforce ideas, emphasize something, or separate the subject from others’ opinions or preferences.

What would that phrase be like if it included a prepositional pronoun?

A mi me gusta viajar, pero a ella le gusta estar en casa(I like to travel, but she likes to stay at home)
A ti te gusta pintar, ¿verdad?(You like painting, don’t you?)
A él/ella le gusta comer pizza los domingos)(she likes to eat pizza on Sundays)
A nosotros nos gusta escuchar música clásica, pero a ellos no les gusta(We like listening to Classical music but they don’t like it)
(A ustedes) les gusta cocinar juntos?(Do you like cooking together?)
(A ellos/ellas) les gusta bailar, ¡son latinos/latinas!They like dancing; they are Latins!

The negative form of the verb “gustar”

What do we say when we DON’T like something?

Expressing your dislike is super easy with this formula.

Prepositional pronoun (optional) + No + Indirect object pronoun + gusta + complementary verb
(a mi) + No + Me + gusta + comer
I don’t like to eat


Let’s see how it looks with the same examples we used above:

(A mi)NO me gusta viajar
(A ti)NO te gusta pintar
(A el/ella)NO le gusta comer pizza
(A nosotros)NO nos gusta escuchar música
(A ustedes)NO les gusta cocinar juntos
(A ellos/ellas)NO les gusta bailar

Asking questions with the verb “gustar”

If you ask someone what they like, you add the question mark and intonation at the end of the sentence.

(A mi)¿Me gusta viajar?
(A ti)¿Te gusta pintar?
(A el/ella)¿le gusta comer pizza?
(A nosotros)¿nos gusta escuchar música?
(A ustedes)¿les gusta cocinar juntos?
(A ellos/ellas)¿les gusta bailar?

Verb “gustar” + objects

Section one explained that we use the verb “gustar” when we like an activity, which implies using a verb in its infinitive form. But how about when we like or don’t like things?

This is the case!

In this case, the verb slightly varies depending on whether the object we are referring to is singular or plural.

How is this?

When we refer to things, we know they could be singular or plural. Depending on this, the verb would be:

“Gusta”, referring to singular objects
“Gustan”, referring to plural objects

The use of the indirect object pronouns and preposition pronouns reminds the same.

Let’s see some examples:

Me gusta el caféI like coffee
Me gustan las frutasMe gustan las frutas I like fruits
¿Te gusta el agua caliente o el agua fría?Do you like hot water or cold water?
¿Te gustan los perros o los gatos?Do you like dogs or cats?
A ella le gusta ese vestidoShe likes that dress
A ella le gustan esos zapatosShe likes those shoes
A nosotros nos gusta la playaWe like the beach
A nosotros nos gustan las montañasWe like mountains
¿Les gusta esta casa?Do you like this house?
¿Les gustan estos apartamentos?Do you like these apartments?
¿A ellos les gusta el calor o el frío?Do they like hot or cold weather?
¿A ellos les gustan las flores o las plantas?Do they like flowers or plants?

Other ways to express likes and dislikes

As we have the love spectrum, we also have the likes & dislikes spectrum…

What is it?

By spectrum, we mean the different levels of likes and dislikes. When you like something, or when you love something!. And, when you don’t like something, and when you really hate something!

Like spectrum

Me gusta el caféI like coffee
Me gusta mucho el caféI like coffee a lot
Me gusta muchísimo el caféI really like coffee
Me encanta el caféI love coffee
Amo el caféI really love coffee

Dislike Spectrum

No me gusta el caféI don’t like coffee
No me gusta mucho el caféI don’t really like coffee much
Odio el caféI hate coffee
Detesto el caféI really hate coffee

We hope this article is helpful for you! If you want to learn more verbs and how to conjugate them in different tenses, come join our classes!

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