Verbs Similar to 'Gustar'

English Subject Becomes Object in Spanish

three clocks in Segovia
Nos queda una hora. (We have an hour left.). Photo by Jacinta Lluch Valero; licensed via Creative Commons.

As you may have already learned, gustar can seem like an unusual verb. What would seem to be to English speakers the subject of the verb is instead its object, and vice versa. In other words, while we may say "I like my books" in English, in Spanish we say, Me gustan mis libros, literally, "my books are pleasing to me." And while it doesn't have to, it is also very common for the subject of gustar (what would be the direct object in English) to follow the verb: Me gusta comer macarrones, I like to eat macaroni. Me gustó la reunión, I liked the meeting.

Using Following Verbs Correctly

However, gustar isn't the only verb that follows that pattern. Learning the following verbs and how they're used can help keep you from making some serious grammatical blunders and give a more natural sound to your language:

Apasionar: Literally meaning "to cause passion," it is often used to translate English sentences in which the subject feels passionate about something. A mi hija le apasiona NSync, my daughter adores NSync.

Antojarse: Nearly always used reflexively, the verb is often translated in sentences as "to want [something]" or "to feel like having or doing [something]" or even "to suppose." Se me antoja ir al cine, I feel like going to the movies. A ella se le antojan dos zanahorias, she feels like having two carrots. Se me antoja que no saldrá, I have the feeling she won't leave.

Encantar: This literally means "to enchant or delight" and is often used in English sentences using forms of "to be delighted" or, less literally, "love" in a nonromantic sense. Me encantan las playas de México, I love Mexican beaches.

Faltar: Although faltar, which means "to be lacking," isn't always used in the same way as gustar, it often is, especially if someone lacks or needs something, or if something is missing. Me falta por comprar un carro, I still need to buy a car. Volví a casa, y me faltó mi computadora, I returned home, and my computer was missing. Hacer falta ("to make a shortfall") is used in a similar way. Me hacen falta dos pesos, I'm two pesos short.

Quedar: Roughly meaning "to remain" or "to be left," quedar is often used in constructions such as these: Nos queda una hora, we have an hour left. Me quedan cinco dólares, I have five dollars left.

Sobrar: It can be used somewhat like quedar and means "to be left over." Me sobran cinco dólares, I have five dollars left over.

Note: Just as is the case with gustar, these verbs don't necessarily need the speaker or other person as the object, although they usually do when a person is affected by the verb action. For example, while one can say me sobró pastel, I had cake left over, one can also speak impersonally, sobró pastel, there was cake left over. Similarly, me gustó el pastel, I liked the cake, but gustó el pastel, the cake was pleasing.