These are three of the most frequently used Spanish verbs.
1.Their meanings are similar
First of all, the meanings of these verbs are close to each other.
All three are used to refer to something a person likes with changing degrees:
interesar: to be interested in
gustar: to like degree of liking increases
encantar: to like very much
2. Sentence construction follows the same structure for all three
There is a group of verbs in Spanish, the sentence structure and the conjugation of which are different than what we are otherwise used to in Spanish. Interesar, gustar and encantar are three examples of such verbs. There are many other verbs which operate exactly in the same manner. There is a link to a list of them at the end of this post.
As a reminder, a “normal” sentence in present tense is constructed as follows
- Leo el libro (I read the book)
To see how these three verbs differ, say “I like the book” in Spanish
- Me gusta el libro (I like the book)
The subject of the sentence above is “el libro” not “me”. This is the point you should understand if you want to make correct sentences with these verbs.
In the above sentence “Me” is called the indirect object. The indirect objects for other pronouns are given in the following table:
|1st person singular||me||gusta|
|2nd person singular||te||gusta|
|3rd person singular||le||gusta|
|1st person plural||nos||gusta|
|2nd person plural||os||gusta|
|3rd person plural||les||gusta|
That means if you want to say he or she likes the book:
- Le gusta el libro (He/She likes the book)
- Te gusta el libro (You (singular) like the book)
- Nos gusta el libro (We like the book)
- Os gusta el libro (You (plural) like the book)
- Les gusta el libro (They like the book)
As always in Spanish, the question sentences are the same as statement senteces with the only difference that question marks appear at the beginning and at the end:
- ¿ Te gusta el libro ? (Do you like the book?)
“No” comes before the indirect object:
- No me gusta el libro (I don’t like the book)
The complete form
In fact, the example sentence “me gusta el libro” is a short form of saying “I like the book”.
The complete sentence reads
- A mí me gusta el libro.
To sum up, the sentences with gustar, interesar and encantar are built according to the following structure:
The a mí part in the sentences above is optional and in practice it is mostly omitted, but there is an exception. Imagine you would like to say “Rachel likes the book”. How do you construct this sentence in Spanish? Rachel le gusta el libro? is wrong. The correct sentence is
- A Rachel le gusta el libro (Rachel likes the book)
3. You need to pay special attention to their conjugations
Have a look at table 2. Do you recognize that the forms of the verbs are always the same? gusta, gusta, gusta…..; interesa, interesa;….encanta, encanta;…….
This is because of the fact that the subject of the sentence in this case is “el libro”, as stated above. That means the 3rd person singular. Therefore the correct forms of the verbs are “gusta”, “interesa” and “encanta”.
On the other hand, if plural nouns are used in the sentence, the correct forms of the verbs are interesan, gustan and encantan. Let’s take an example again;
- Me gustan el libro y el gato (I like the book and the cat)
The subject of this sentence is el libro and el gato: 3rd person plural. Therefore, you need to conjugate the verb according to the 3rd person plural. That’s the reason why “gustan” is used in the example sentence.
If you don’t want to bother yourself with all of these details, just study table 3. It includes all the information you need to make correct sentences with verbs similar to gustar.
|a mí||me||gusta (for verbs and singular nouns) or gustan (for plural nouns)|
|a ti||te||gusta (for verbs and singular nouns) or gustan (for plural nouns)|
|a él/ella/usted||le||gusta (for verbs and singular nouns) or gustan (for plural nouns)|
|a nosotros/nosotras||nos||gusta (for verbs and singular nouns) or gustan (for plural nouns)|
|a vosotros/vosotras||os||gusta (for verbs and singular nouns) or gustan (for plural nouns)|
|a ellos/ellas/ustedes||les||gusta (for verbs and singular nouns) or gustan (for plural nouns)|
4. They all provide a good opportunity to practice a mí tambien and a mí tampoco
Since these verbs are used when talking about the things one likes, they come into play very often in conversations.
Imagine you are having a conversation in Spanish with a friend about your hobbies. Instead of repeating always the same strurcture me gusta or no me gusta, get used to say a mí tambien (me too) or a mí tampoco (me neither).
For example, someone says she likes singing much and she wants to learn whether you also like singing or not. How would you answer shortly in Spanish, if you also like singing much?
- Me gusta mucho cantar. ¿ y a ti ? (I like singing much. And you?)
- a mí tambien (me too)
Now, suppose you don’t like singing. What would you say?
- a mí no (me not: I don’t like singing much)
Now think that the first person says he does not like singing and asking you again if you like or not?
- No me gusta cantar (I don’t like singing) ¿ y a ti ? (and you?)
- a mí tampoco (Me neither; I don’t like singing either)
But, if you on the contrary like singing you would answer:
- a mí sí (I do like singing)
So there are four possibilities:
1. a mí tambien,
2. a mí si,
3. a mí tampoco,
4. a mí no.
Also note that when the person asks “and you”, he does not say “¿ y tú ?”, but he says ¿ y a ti ? Have a look at table 3. Instead of the subject pronouns (yo, tú…), a mí, a ti… are used. That’s is the reason why in the questions above ” ¿ y a ti ? ” is used.
Other verbs similar to interesar, gustar and encantar:
If you have studied table 3 and understood how to make correct sentences with these verbs, congratulations, you have now a new transferable skill in Spanish. Because there are other verbs which function exactly like gustar, interesar and encantar. Here is the list of those verbs.