Improve Your Spanish Grammar: «Me aburre» and other verbs that work like «gustar»

I’m sure you have used «gustar» to express your preferences and interests. And I’m sure you know that the best way to remember the grammatical structure is to translate «gustar» as “to please”, “to be pleasing” or “to cause pleasure”.

Me gusta viajar = travelling gives me pleasure = I like travelling/to travel

But when you want to express the preferences and interests of other people, you may make mistakes, right? That’s very common, because these verbs can be complicated even for students at an advanced level of Spanish.

Let’s explain why.

The first thing you need to know is that there are many verbs which function like «gustar». Here is a list of the most common:

aburrirto bore, to cause boredom
apetecerto appeal, to be appealing
asustarto frighten
caer bien/malto be likeable/unlikeable
Me cae bien Luis = Luis is likeable to me = I like Luis
Yo le caigo bien a Luis = I am likeable to Luis = Luis likes me
dar miedo (pena/asco/vergüenza etc.)to cause fear (sorrow/disgust/shame etc.)
divertirto amuse
dolerto cause pain
encantarto cause great pleasure
engancharto captivate, to hook, to seize someone’s interest
faltarto be missing
fascinarto fascinate
fastidiarto annoy
favorecerto favour; to suit (e.g., a haircut. clothing)
importarto be important, to matter
impresionarto impress
interesarto interest
molestarto bother
parecer (bien/mal/raro…)to seem (good/ bad/ strange etc.)
preocuparto worry, to cause worry
quedar (bien/mal)to suit (clothes, shoes etc.)
saber malto make someone feel bad
Me sabe mal que… it feels bad to me that… = I feel bad/sorry that…
valerto be useful, to be worth it

Actually most of these verbs (except apetecer, doler, favorecer, quedar bien/mal) can be used in two different ways, although this is the most common : «me gusta» (singular subject), or «me gustan» (plural subject).

Me gusta el cine
«El cine» es el sujeto de la oración
= Cinema gives me pleasure

Yo le gusto a Pedro
«Yo» es el sujeto de la oración
= I am pleasing to Pedro

(A mí) me gusta/nYo gusto (a alguien)
(A ti) te gusta/nTú gustas (a alguien)
(A él/ella/usted) le gusta/nÉl/ella/usted gusta (a alguien)
(A nosotros/as) nos gusta/nNosotros/as gustamos (a alguien)
(A vosotros/as) os gusta/nVosotros/as gustáis (a alguien)
(A ellos/as/ustedes) les gusta/Ellos/as/ustedes gustan (a alguien)

So far so good, right? But students often have difficulty referring to other peoples’ preferences and interests, because they forget to use pronouns and the preposition «a».

Mi padre gusta > A mi padre le gusta

Also, with «a mí, a ti, a ella», etc., many students also forget to use the pronouns «me, te, le, etc.» because they think it is an unnecessary repetition. But you always have to use these pronouns!

A Juan gustan los animales > A Juan le gustan los animales

So the use of «a mí, a ti, a él, etc.» is not obligatory unless we need to be emphatic or specify the name of the person we are referring to. But it is obligatory to use the pronouns «me, te, le» etc.

(A mí) me  gusta el cineWe don’t have to say «a mí» because we know who we are talking about when we use the pronoun «me».
A Juan le gusta la cervezaWe have to use «a Juan» if we don’t know who are talking about or we haven’t already mentioned this person before in the conversation.
Verbos que funcionan como «gustar»
A Juan los deberes le aburren muchísimo. Más le vale hacer un curso de Real Spanish: nuestros cursos de español online le engancharán.

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