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All About "You" in Spanish: The Many Ways to Say It

How do you say "you" in Spanish? In contrast to English, where "you" just say "you," there are a plethora of different ways to say this in Spanish, which we'll explore today. 

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Spanish Subject Pronouns for "You"

Subject pronouns in Spanish (e.g. yo (I), (you), él/ella (he/she), etc.) are the most basic way to say "you." While in English, "you" is the only second person subject pronoun, in Spanish, there are five different ones, and the one you choose will depend on such factors as whether you are addressing one or more than one person, if the situation is more or less formal, and what region you are in. Let's take a closer look. 

 

1.

Simply put, tú means "you" for speaking to just one person in less formal situations, such as speaking to someone you already know. This is the most common familiar second person subject pronoun in most Spanish-speaking countries.

 

hablas obviamente muy bien el español, pero

You obviously speak Spanish very well, but

Caption 10, Carlos y Xavi Part 4 Tradiciones y comida de Barcelona

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2. Vos

Vos is used in a similar fashion as tú in certain countries/regions. It is heard predominantly in Argentina and Uruguay but also in certain areas of Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, and Venezuela. 

 

¿Y vos hablás de mí?

And you talk about me?

Caption 51, Muñeca Brava 18 - La Apuesta - Part 11

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3. Usted

Usted is used to address just one person in more formal situations. Examples might be when you don't know someone and wish to be polite or, perhaps, when addressing an elder. 

 

¿Usted habla del ganso ese? -Sí.

Are you talking about that goose? -Yes.

Caption 54, Muñeca Brava 1 Piloto - Part 10

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4. Vosotros/Vosotras

Vosotros and vosotras are employed to address more than one person informally and are thus the plural equivalent of . Vosotros is used for a group of all males or a mixed male-female group, while vosotras is used for more than one person when everyone is female. Vosotros and vosotras are only used in Spain. 

 

Vosotros habláis.

You [plural] speak.

Caption 11, Fundamentos del Español 7 - Ser y Estar

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5. Ustedes 

Ustedes is used in all Spanish-speaking countries except Spain as the only plural form of saying "you," regardless of formality. However, in Spain, it is used more formally as the plural equivalent of usted (to distinguish it with the less formal vosotros/as). 

 

Y es que hay muchas diferencias entre la forma en que ustedes hablan el español

And it's just that there are a lot of differences between the way in which you guys speak Spanish

Captions 44-45, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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All of the aforementioned subject pronouns in these clips have been translated as "you" with the exception of the last one, which was translated with the informal "you guys" to emphasize that it is directed to more than one person. However, it would be perfectly acceptable to translate ustedes as merely "you" since English often employs this pronoun to address multiple people.

 

For an abundance of additional information on these five subject pronouns for "you" in Spanish, we recommend Carlos' five-part video series on the Tuteo, ustedeo y voseo

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Verb Conjugation 

As you may have noticed in the examples above, all of which contain the simple present form of the verb hablar (to speak), the form of "you" utilized affects the verb conjugation. Although this happens in every verb tense in Spanish, let's start by taking a look at the simple present tense conjugations of three common Spanish verbs with their various "you" forms highlighted. 

 

Personal Pronoun Hablar Comer Subir
Yo  hablo como  subo
hablas  comes  subes
Vos hablás comés subís
Él/ella habla come sube
Usted habla come sube
Nosotros/nosotras hablamos comemos subimos
Ellos/ellas hablan  comen suben
Ustedes hablan comen suben
Vosotros/vosotras habláis coméis subís

 

You will note that the verb conjugations for all of the five forms of "you" in Spanish differ from one another. Additionally, the conjugation for usted is the same as the conjugation for the third person singular él/ella (he/she) while the conjugation for ustedes is the same as the third person plural conjugation for ellos/ellas (they). Additionally, the conjugations for vos and vosotros/as are the same for -ir verbs.

 

Remember that in Spanish, you don't necessarily need to explicitly say the subject pronoun in order to know which one is in use because the verb tenses themselves make that clear. That said, let's examine a few examples with different forms of "you" and the verb saber (to know). 

 

¿Sabéis qué es un volcán?

Do you know what a volcano is?

Caption 18, Aprendiendo con Silvia Los volcanes

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Ay, ¿sabes qué?

Oh, you know what?

Caption 21, Club 10 Capítulo 1 - Part 1

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¿Sabe que no me parece suficiente?

Do you know that it doesn't seem like enough to me?

Caption 62, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 3 - Part 3

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Despite the absence of subject pronouns, you can tell from the verbs' conjugation that the first example refers to vosotros, the second example refers to , and the third example refers to usted, and for this reason, all three have been translated with "you know." While the third example could technically refer to él or ella as well since the conjugations for all three are the same, the context (one person speaking directly to another rather than talking about anyone else) alerts you that the speaker is addressing the other person as usted

 

Alternative "You" Pronouns in Spanish

Subject pronouns are not the only way to represent the word "you" in Spanish. Other types of Spanish pronouns (direct object, indirect object, and prepositional) also mean "you." Let's see which of each of these types of pronouns correspond with which "you" subject pronouns:

 

Subject Pronoun Direct Object Pronoun Indirect Object Pronoun Prepositional Pronoun
te te ti
Vos  te te vos
Usted lo, la le usted
Ustedes los, las les ustedes
Vosotros/as os os vosotros/as

 

While we won't delve too deeply into these topics, we will provide a brief summary of each of them and give you some examples.

 

Direct Object Pronouns

Direct object pronouns take the place of the direct object (the recipient of an action) in a sentence and answer the question of "what" or "who." Let's see a couple of examples:

 

Vale, no... no os veo... no os veo con mucha...

OK, I don't... I don't see you... I don't see you with a lot...

Caption 39, Escuela BCNLIP Clase con Javi: el futuro - Part 3

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Los veo en el próximo video.

See you in the next video.

Caption 44, Manos a la obra Postres de Minecraft

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In both examples, the translation of the direct object pronoun is "you." In the first, os takes the place of vosotros, and in the second, los takes the place of ustedes

 

Indirect Object Pronouns

Indirect object pronouns answer the question "to who/whom" or "for who/whom" an action is carried out. Let's take a look:

 

De verdad, yo le doy la plata que tengo ahí;

Seriously, I'll give you the money I have there;

Caption 25, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 1 - Part 1

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Otra recomendación que les puedo hacer es que traigan zapatos para el agua,

Another recommendation that I can give you is to bring water shoes,

Captions 35-36, Alan x el mundo Mi playa favorita de México! - Part 2

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In the first example, le lets you know that the speaker will give the money "to" usted, while in the second, the recommendation is being given "to" ustedes. While the indirect object pronouns in these two captions have been translated with simply "you," the translator might also have opted for "I'll give the money I have there to you" and/or "Another recommendation that I can give to you is to bring water shoes."

 

To learn more about indirect and direct object pronouns, check out this two-part lesson on How to Use Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns.

 

Prepositional Pronouns

Prepositional pronouns are pronouns that follow a preposition (words like para (for), de (of, about), en (in, about), etc.) in a sentence. 

 

Este libro es para ti. Este libro es para vos.

This book is for you. This book is for you.

Captions 47-48, Carlos y Cyndy Uso del Voseo en Argentina

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y hoy, he preparado para ustedes estos objetos

and today, I've prepared these objects for you

Caption 3, Ana Carolina El uso correcto de los adjetivos

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Interestingly, ti is the only prepositional pronoun meaning "you" that differs in form from its corresponding subject pronoun.

 

We hope that this lesson has made clear the many different ways that Spanish expresses the concept of "you." That's all for today... and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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Talking About Yourself and Getting to Know Others in Spanish

Now that you've learned how to introduce yourself in Spanish, let's go over some basic questions and answers when telling others about ourselves or asking about them. 

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Where are you from?

Asking someone where they are from might be a common introductory question when getting to know someone. Let's take a look at both the (informal "you") and usted (formal "you") forms of this question: 

 

O, ¿de dónde eres? ¿De dónde es?

Or, where are you from? [with "tú"]. Where are you from? [with "usted"].

Captions 13-14, Karla e Isabel Tú y Usted

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And, what if someone asks you this question? You might use the construction Yo soy de (I'm from) to say the city, country, etc. you come from. Let's see some examples:

 

Yo soy de San Fernando, Cádiz.

I am from San Fernando, Cádiz.

Caption 27, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 21

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Yo soy de Argentina, de la provincia de Córdoba, eh... exactamente de un pueblito que se llama Río Ceballos,

I'm from Argentina, from the province of Córdoba, um... precisely from a little town called Río Ceballos;

Captions 8-9, Luana y Fede Viajes

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Alternatively, you might say your nationality, particularly when talking about yourself in a foreign country: 

 

Yo soy argentina.

I'm Argentine.

Caption 53, Carlos y Cyndy Uso del Voseo en Argentina

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soy español,

I'm Spanish,

Caption 2, Madrid Un recorrido por la capital de España

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To learn more about how to talk about nationalities in Spanish, check out this lesson on Adjectives of Nationality in Spanish. Let's explore some additional common questions/answers when getting acquainted with someone in Spanish. 

 

What do you do?

Another is common question you might ask or get asked is, "What do you do (for a living)"? Let's explore a few ways to ask this question:

 

Bueno, perdón. ¿Tú a qué te dedicas?

Well, sorry. What do you do?

Caption 48, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 9

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¿En qué trabajas tú, Inmaculada?

In what [field] do you work, Inmaculada?

Caption 31, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 12

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The usted versions would be "¿Usted a qué se dedica?" and "¿En qué trabaja usted?" Another possible way to ask this question is:

 

¿Cuál es tu/su trabajo?

What's your job? 

 

Now, let's look at some possible responses.

 

Me dedico a vender la leche.

I sell milk for a living.

Caption 2, Milkman Milk Seller, Nicaragua

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Yo trabajo en una tienda de ropa de segunda mano... -Ah...

I work at a second hand clothing store... -Oh...

Caption 69, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 14

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No, yo soy azafata.

No, I'm a flight attendant.

Caption 49, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 9

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Note that when talking about your profession in Spanish, the appropriate verb is ser ("to be" for fixed characteristics) rather than estar ("to be" for more temporary states) and that, in Spanish, unlike English, you don't include the article. For that reason, the aforementioned example reads soy azafata rather than soy una azafata

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How old are you?

The ways to say "How old are you?" in Spanish are "¿Cuántos años tienes?" when using  and "¿Cuántos años tiene?" with addressing someone with usted. Let's hear the tú version in action:

 

¿Tú cuántos años tienes, Mariano?

How old are you, Mariano?

Caption 69, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 6

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To answer this question, we use the verb tener años, which literally means "to have years," inserting the correct number of years between these two words. This is the Spanish equivalent of "being (a certain number) of years old." Let's take a look:

 

Tengo dieciséis años.

I'm sixteen years old.

Caption 7, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

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If you'd like to learn or refresh your Spanish numbers, check out the lesson The Numbers from One to One Hundred in Spanish.  

 

Are you married?

In this caption, you will hear both the question and answer to this question.

 

¿Y eres casado o soltero? Estoy casado con una mujer italiana de Nápoles.

And are you married or singleI'm married to an Italian woman from Naples.

Captions 8-9, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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You might notice that in the example above, the first speaker uses the verb ser, saying "¿Y eres casado...?" instead of "¿Y estás casado?" while the second speaker uses the verb estar to answer. Although the adjective casado/a (married) is traditionally used with the verb estar, you might hear it used with ser in some Spanish-speaking regions. For more on the nuances of these two verbs, check out Ser vs. Estar- Yo Soy and Ser vs. Estar- Yo Estoy

 

Do you have kids/brothers and sisters?

We ask both of these questions with the Spanish verb tener (to have), which is conjugated as tiene with usted and tienes with . Let's hear how to ask these two questions with

 

¿Tienes hijos? -No.

Do you have children? -No.

Caption 87, Adícora, Venezuela El tatuaje de Rosana

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¿Tienes hermanos o hermanas? 

Do you have brothers or sisters?

Caption 5, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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It is worth noting that, as the plural masculine noun los hermanos could refer to either just "brothers" or to both "brothers and sisters" or "siblings," you could simply say "¿Tienes hermanos?" when asking if someone has brothers and/or sisters. Similarly, los hijos could specifically mean "sons" or include both male and female "children." The singular and plural feminine nouns la(s) hermana(s) and la(s) hijas, on the other hand, refer to specifically female "sister(s)" and "daughter(s)." With that in mind, let's look at some potential answers to these questions:

 

Yo tengo dos hijos pequeños y...

I have two small children, and...

Caption 66, El Aula Azul Un día de surf

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Y, bueno, eh... tengo una hija de ocho años, ya sabéis. 

And, well, um... I have an eight-year-old daughter, you already know.

Caption 26, Clase Aula Azul La segunda condicional - Part 1

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Sí, tengo una hermana más pequeña que tiene tres años menos.

Yes, I have a younger sister who is three years younger.

Caption 6, Carlos y Xavi Part 2 Ustedes y Vosotros

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Let's move on to our last common question when getting to know someone in Spanish. 

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What do you like to do in your free time?

Here are some possible ways to broach the topic of what people like to do when they aren't working. 

 

¿qué te gusta hacer?

what do you like to do?

Caption 24, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

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¿Qué cosas te gusta hacer en tu tiempo libre?

What do you like to do in your free time?

Caption 15, El Aula Azul Los profesores de la escuela - Part 1

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Or, you could simply say: "¿Qué te gusta hacer en tu tiempo libre?" A good formula for answering what you like to do is to say (a mí) me gusta (I like) or (a mí) me encanta (I love) plus a verb in the infinitive. Let's see some examples: 

 

Me gusta salir a rumbear...

I like to go out dancing...

Caption 15, Zoraida Lo que gusta hacer

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Pues, me gusta escuchar música, eh... pintar, y me gusta viajar mucho.

Well, I like to listen to music, um... paint, and I like to travel a lot.

Captions 25-26, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

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y me encanta ir a la playa con mis amigos.

and I love going to the beach with my friends.

Caption 39, Clara y Cristina Saludar

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We hope that this lesson has helped you learn some basic questions/answers for getting to know someone and telling them about yourself. Can you think of any other preliminary question you would like to learn to ask or answer in Spanish? Feel free to let us know with your suggestions and comments

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Caption 26, 25, 24, 7, 69
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Gustar vs. "To Like": A Difference in Perception - Part 2

In the first part of this lesson, we focused on the difference in perception in English versus Spanish when it comes to expressing the concept of "liking." Although in English, the subject of a sentence (the person, place, thing, or idea who performs the action of the sentence's verb) is perceived to "perform the action" of "liking" onto the object of the sentence (the receiver of the action, or "what is being liked"), in Spanish, the opposite is true. Let's review this concept with a simple example:

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Me gustan mucho las ciudades.

I really like cities.

Caption 58, Carlos y Cyndy - Uso del Voseo en Argentina

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In English, "I" is the subject and "cities" is the object because "I" am the person who performs the action of liking upon "cities." In Spanish, on the other hand, las ciudades (the cities) are the subject that are thought to "cause" the implied object "yo" (I) to like them. As this functions similarly to the English verb "to please," it is useful to keep in mind the alternative translation "Cities really please me" when thinking about this and other sentences with gustar. 

 

Armed with this information, let's explore how to create and understand Spanish sentences with this verb. First off, how do we express in Spanish the English concept of who or what is "doing the liking"? In other words, how would one say, "I like" or "you like" or "they like," etc.? In order to do this, Spanish employs the following indirect object pronouns with the verb gustar as follows:

 

        -(A mí) me gusta/n: I like.

        -(A ti) te gusta/n: You like.

        -(A él/ella/usted) le gusta/n: He/She/You like(s).

        -(A nosotros/as) nos gusta/n: We like.

        -(A vosotros/as) os gusta/n: You (all) like.

        -(A ellos/ellas/ustedes) les gusta/n: They like/You (all) like.

 

Let's take a look at some examples:

 

Y aquí tengo una blusa que me gusta.

And I have here a blouse that I like.

Caption 6, Ana Carolina - Salir de compras

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Muy bien, ¿te gusta esa música?

Great, do you like that music?

Caption 63, Carlos y Cyndy - Comentario sobre Muñeca Brava

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A nosotras nos gustan los colores del arcoíris.

We like the colors of the rainbow.

Caption 10, Español para principiantes - Los colores

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Note that, while in the third example, A nosotras was included before nos gustan, this is completely optional, and we could have written simply, Nos gustan los colores del arcoíris (We like the colors of the rainbow) to mean exactly the same thing. In fact, all such "a phrases" (a , a ti, a vosotros, etc.) indicated in parentheses above serve to add emphasis but do not change the meaning of sentences with gustar.

 

Now that we have learned how to indicate or know who or what is "doing the liking," let's focus on how to conjugate the verb gustar, which we will do in accordance with "what is being liked." Let's revisit the previous examples, as well as their alternative translations, to better understand this: 

 

Y aquí tengo una blusa que me gusta. 

And I have here a blouse that I like.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: And I have here a blouse that pleases me

 

Muy bien, ¿te gusta esa música

Great, do you like that music?

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: Great, and does that music please you? 

 

A nosotras nos gustan los colores del arcoíris

We like the colors of the rainbow.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: The colors of the rainbow please us. 

 

Notice that, since "what is being liked" is the subject that performs the action in Spanish, in the aforementioned examples, we see gustar conjugated in the third person singular (gusta) in the cases where the subject is singular (esa músical"that music" and una blusa/"a blouse") and third person plural (gustan) in the cases where the subject is plural (los colores del arcoíris/"the colors of the rainbow"). Similarly, the verb "to please" is conjugated in accordance with said subjects in English. 

 

What if, on the other hand, "what's liked" comes in the form of a verb's infinitive? In that case, the third person singular form of gustar should be utilized:

 

Y... aparte de... de la música, me gusta patinar.

And... apart from... from music, I like to skate.

Caption 14, Zoraida - Lo que gusta hacer

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While in all of the aforementioned examples, the verb gustar has been conjugated in either third person singular or plural, there are cases in which the subject calls for a diffrent conjugation. Let's take a look:

 

Me gustas.

I like you.

Porque sí.

Just because.

-Tú también me gustas mucho.

-I like you a lot too.

Captions 44-46, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 4

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: You please me. Just because. -You please me too. 

 

Since the subject "being liked" is tú (you), gustar is conjugated in the second person singular: gustas, and the alternative translation "You please me" can again help us to grasp this construction. Let's examine a couple of additional examples:

 

A este chico le gusto mucho.

That guy likes me a lot.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: I please that guy a lot. 

 

A ustedes les gustamos mucho. 

You guys like us a lot.

ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: We please you guys a lot. 

 

As always, the verb gustar is conjugated in agreement with the Spanish sentences' subjects: yo/"I" (in the first person singular gusto) and nosotros/"we" (in the first person plural gustamos). 

 

Let's conclude with one final example: 

 

Y la directora de la biblioteca me dijo

And the director of the library told me

que el texto había gustado mucho.

that [people] had liked the text a lot.

Captions 48-49, Aprendiendo con Carlos - El microrrelato

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ALTERNATIVE TRANSLATION: and the director of the library told me that the text had pleased [people] a lot. 

 

Once again, gustar has been conjugated in the third person singular as había gustado (this time in the past perfect) in agreement with what is being liked: el texto (the text). However, the absence of an indirect object pronoun to specify who or what is "doing the liking" gives us the essence that the text is generally pleasing, in other words: people liked it. 

​We hope that these lessons have helped to shed some light on how to use/understand the verb gustar, which might initially seem daunting to English speakers. That's all for today, and don't forget to leave us your comments and suggestions.

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