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

I’m sure 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:

aburrir to bore, to cause boredom
apetecer to appeal, to be appealing
asustar to frighten
caer bien/mal to 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.)
divertir to amuse
doler to cause pain
doler to cause pain
encantar to cause great pleasure
enganchar to captivate, to hook, to seize someone’s interest
faltar to be missing
fascinar to fascinate
fastidiar to annoy
favorecer to favour; to suit (e.g., a haircut. clothing)
importar to be important, to matter
impresionar to impress
interesar to interest
molestar to bother
parecer (bien/mal/raro…) to seem (good/ bad/ strange etc.)
preocupar to worry, to cause worry
quedar (bien/mal) to suit (clothes, shoes etc.)
saber mal to make someone feel bad

Me sabe mal que… it feels bad to me that… = I feel bad/sorry that…

valer to 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/n Yo gusto (a alguien)
(A ti) te gusta/n Tú gustas (a alguien)
(A él/ella/usted) le gusta/n Él/ella/usted gusta (a alguien)
(A nosotros/as) nos gusta/n Nosotros/as gustamos (a alguien)
(A vosotros/as) os gusta/n Vosotros/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 cine No es necesario usar «a mí» porque sabemos de quién hablamos cuando usamos el pronombre «me».
A Juan le gusta la cerveza Necesitamos usar «a Juan» si no sabemos de quién estamos hablando o no lo hemos mencionado antes en la conversación.
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.

Did you like this blog post?

Every full-length lesson on Real Spanish includes a couple of pages explaining points of Spanish grammar that come up during the lesson.