I find studyspanish.com to be most helpful, too. They actually have a lesson specifically on "gustar." Because of its literal meaning in Spanish, which is not exactly the same as "he likes," it must take an indirect object pronoun. They explain it very well, for which I am grateful: http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/gustar.htm
I found spanish.about.com has several in depth discussions on spanish grammar as well. If you want to make it even easier to find what you want on this website, bookmark this webpage:
Now just insert your search terms into the search bar after the allintitle: and hit return. You should get some very relavant results.
Also, don't use quotes unless you're looking for an exact phrase. One more thing, it returns results where ALL of the search terms are found in the title. So keep the search terms to the bare essentials. Por para returns more results than the more specific por and para.
If you want either of the terms, but not necessarily both, put OR in between the terms in all caps.
por OR para
In short, the a cannot be omitted because it signifies the recipient of the indirect pronoun "le".
You can't omit the "a" because it indicates the indirect object of the verb Gustar. Unfortunately, caiser was wrong in stating that this is the personal "a", it is not.
Gustar is a special verb in which the person doing the liking, is not the subject of the sentence, the object being liked is. In English we would say "I like the books", but in Spanish it would be "The books are pleasing to me".
Thus Gustar is conjugated to agree with the subject, which in the sentence above, is the fish. The le is used to signify the indirect object, which is indicated by saying "a el"
You have to know that "gusta" is one of the, for lack of a better term, "backwards verbs''. A native English speaker needs to translate the sentence backwards. ''Pescado'' is the subject. ''Él'' is the object. ''Fish'' ''is pleasing to'' ''him''. Since we don't talk that way, we then reverse it back (for oujr English-oriented brains) and use "like''. In English we would say ''he likes fish''.
I can remember the meaning of gusto when I think of it as "appeals" or "pleases" instead of "like." Although Duolingo does not accept my translation, it is helpful for understanding. For example, The fish appeals to me or The fish pleases me. When said that way, it is clear that the fish is the subject and the person is the object.
The "A él" could be considered an intensifier/clarifier to give us "He doesn't like fish," but I think something additional would be required in Spanish to say "As for him." There is an adverbial phrase "En cuanto a," which means "With regards to / As for" but I'm unsure how you would use that correctly as "En cuanto a él, no le gusta el pescado" would seem to switch from "him" being the subject to "him" being the indirect object. Perhaps a native speaker can assist.
The verb 'gustar' translates into English as "is pleasing to' We have to think Spanish, not English. So, therefore the verb requires a indirect object pronoun, which is 'le'. 'Le is ambiguous because it means 'to him/to her/to you'. So as not to confuse anyone, Spanish speakers will add the "a él" to further clarify. So, 'le gusta pescado' would translate ' to him/to her/to you/, fish is pleasing. So, to add the "a él", tells the person spoken to, to understand that it is 'to him'. 'To him, fish is pleasing to him, literally. Going by my grammar book, one can leave out the "a él", but never 'le'.
Why 'le' and not 'lo'? I understand 'le' for indirect objects, but why is 'him' considered an indirect object in this sentence? If the sentence was 'the fish sees him' then the 'him' would surely be a direct object and therefore 'lo', so why in 'the fish is not pleasing to him' does the 'him' become an indirect object?
jellonzsaid: so why in 'the fish is not pleasing to him' does the 'him' become an indirect object?
Confusing I know. The indirect pronoun 'le' means NOT 'him' but rather 'to him'; Since 'le' is used for 'to him, to her, or to you and sometimes for him or for her, and rarely 'to it', the prepositional phase "a él" ( meaning 'to him) is a redundant indirect object.
If you left out the 'le' but did not replace it with another pronoun, the sentence would not make sense. The verb gosto will (almost) always have a pronoun with it -- me gusta, su gusto, etc. (You can sometimes use gustar w/o the pronoun, but I don't think we'll be using using those phrases for a while).
I would like to understand this as well. There are many earlier sentences that do not use an "A" in front of the el, (ex "El come arroz" or El bebe agua"). Why is this sentence different. I understand the concept of the personal a (for the most part). The intent of the example sentences and this one seem to be the same, (a guy doing something), unless it has something to do with word gusta, thank you.
You would not say "A él no le come el pescado". You would say "él no come pescado". i.e. he does not eat fish. This is because in 'He does not eat fish', 'He' is the SUBJECT, the one performing the action and the fish is the object. The pronoun for 'He' as a subject in Spanish is 'él'.
Now take an example 'He does not show her the house'.
Now in such a sentence, the He is the subject, 'the house' is the direct object, and 'her' becomes the indirect object. In Spanish, the indirect object pronoun for 'her' is 'le'. Therefore, you would say 'él no le muestra la casa a ella'.
Here the 'a ella' is optional and only serves to clarify the 'TO HER' part.
I'd say "never rely totally on the hover down dictionary as in different contexts some 'hints' may not be correct" but in this case the context (if referring to food) does support "enjoy" and "like" as synonyms. Your answer may have been marked wrong due to the inclusion of the definite article. As "el pescado" is the subject it could refer to "the fish" or just "fish" in general. DL's primary translation supports the latter, so perhaps "He does not enjoy fish" would be accepted.