The challenge that gustar may present is worth the effort given that, as previously mentioned, its structure is observed by a bountiful number of highly frequently used verbs. As a quick refresh, said structure requires the following order when using these verbs:
|Indirect object pronoun||+ GUSTAR or verbs that behave similarly||+ SUBJECT|
|Me +||+ gustan||+ las películas de ciencia ficción.|
|Sci-fi movies||+ are pleasing||+ to me.|
|I||+ like||+ sci-fi movies.|
Remember that either gusta or gustan is used depending upon whether the SUBJECT of the sentence is singular or plural respectively. It has NOTHING to do with the indirect object pronoun (IOP).
So, let’s now delve into other fascinating aspects that concern this peculiar group of verbs as well as some specific IOP’s.
The sentence Le gusta el queso manchego can be translated as either
She likes cheese of La Mancha
He likes cheese of La Mancha
given that the IOP le refers to both masculine and feminine third singular person. The very same applies to les which can be used as IOP for both masculine and feminine plural person.
How do we avoid such puzzling gender ambiguity? By providing additional information about the IOP introduced by the almighty preposition a.
In fact, to distinguish among third person IOP’s, the preposition a is preceded by the specific third person subject pronoun, depending on which one we are referring to. Therefore, possible combinations obtained are:
A ÉL – A ELLA – A ELLOS – A ELLAS
|A él → to him||A él le gusta/n…||He likes…|
|A ella → to her||A ella le gusta/n…||She likes…|
|A ellos → to them (masculine only or masculine and feminine)||A ellos les gusta/n…||They like…|
|A ellas → to them (feminine only)||U ellas les gusta/n…||They like…|
Alternatively, the third person subject pronoun can be replaced by the name of the person or people involved in the action expressed by the verb.
Here are some examples:
A él le gustan las motos. → He likes motorbikes.
A Marina le gusta el flamenco. → Marina likes flamenco.
A Pablo y Julia les gustan los caramelos. → Pablo and Julia like candies.
A Sabina y Ana les gusta Ricky Martin. → Sabina and Ana like Ricky Martin.
And finally, here is the list of verbs which operate similarly to gustar, that is verbs that take an IOP. Interestingly, many of them convey different nuances of liking and dislike:
aburrir (to bore) agradar (to be pleasing) bastar (to be sufficient)
disgustar (to dislike) doler (to be painful) encantar (to love)
faltar (to be lacking) fascinar (to fascinate) importar (to be important to/to mind)
interesar (to be interesting to) molestar (to bother)
parecer (to appear to be) quedar (to be left over)
Latest note on these verbs is that the subject performing the action can also be expressed by an infinitive verb, same as in English.
Me encanta aprender español. → I love to learn Spanish.
A Fernando y Rui les gusta jugar al tenis. → Fernando and Rui like to play tennis.
Let’s have a look at some more examples:
Me duele la cabeza. → My head hurts.
Nos gusta patinar. → We like skating.
A su camisa le falta un botón. → Her shirt is missing a button.
Os interesan mucho los cuentos de Cervantes. → You are very interested in Cervantes’ tales.
No les importa nada de mí. → They don’t care about me at all.