An English speaker’s perspective

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The verb gustar is most commonly associated with the word like. It would be used in most places that we use the word like in English. However, it is not a grammatical equivalent, which is why English speakers have such a hard time knowing how to use gustar. But if you think of gustar as being a functional equivalent of please (as in, that pleases me), you will be much better off.

The basic problem with thinking of like and gustar as equals is that they have a different perspective on the one doing the action.

In the phrase “I like peanut butter,” it is me who is doing the action of liking the peanut butter. But to say “the peanut butter pleases me” has the peanut butter doing the action to me.

The Spanish gustar is much more equivalent to please. You don’t say “yo gusto el chocolate” because that says “I please the chocolate.” You would instead say “me gusta el chocolate” or “the chocolate pleases me.”

When struggling with the usage of gustar, try to think of its equivalent as being the word please and you will have a grammatical equivalent.


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