"My parents like beer."
Translation:A mis padres les gusta la cerveza.
"Gustar" in Spanish does not work in the same way as "to like" in English. Gustar takes as subject the thing that is being liked, and as object the people that like it. So "la cerveza gusta a mis padres" literally translates as "the beer is liked by my parents". It's "gusta" and not "gustan" because "la cervaza" is singular. The word "a" has pretty much the same role as the word "by" in the English translation here. Finally, in your example the words are moved about a little and an additional "les" is thrown in; that's just something that the Spanish do and you'll have to get used to it ;-).
curious why it has to be "la cerveza" at the end and not just "a mis padres les gusta cerveza"? I understand the idea that cerveza has an article, but why do you need it sometimes (like here) and not others (ie: me gusta cerveza, if this is indeed correct to mean "I like beer")
Literal meaning is not the same as literal translation. Literal translation is "Beer is pleasing to them, my parents." Not "beer is liked by my parents." Cerveza is the subject, singular, so it gusta (pleases) someone, les (them). Les is an object pronoun that means "them." It is not "just thrown in." Les gusta la cerveza means "beer pleases them." We know who "them" is because "mis padres" is added to the sentence to clarify the meaning of "les." The "a" before mis padres is "to." A good analogy is the use of the word "disgust" in English, or disgustar in Spanish. Me disguta la cerveza = beer disgusts me. A loose translation of gustar ends up using "like," but in reality there is no "liking" being done. www.studyspanish.com
Clitics have me discouraged, and I'm so far off here it's not even funny.
"Mis padres gustan cerveza" was my completely wrong attempt. I knew it was going to be wrong because of the lesson category, but I didn't know what else it would be for this simple sentence, and my answer looked fairly close to me!
I understand I forgot the personal "a" in front of mis padres, but the rest is still fuzzy, including when to use la or el in front of objects. Why is it "the beer" instead of simply "beer" here? And the drop down hints only showed gustan, gustar, and parecido, not gusta or les gusta. Reading these comments helps, but I'm still struggling.
I hope the lightbulb comes on sometime soon...
DL doesn't spend any time on the other verbs which behave like gustar: aburrir, agradar, disgustar, doler, encantar, faltar, fascinar, interesar, molestar, parecer, procupar, quedar et al. These verbs are used in the following way: IO + V + S (Indirect object + Verb + Subject). There are many gustar examples on the Duo tree, but none (hardly any?) of the other verbs listed here. It's obvioius from the comments generated by gustar sentences that users (especially English natives) have a tough time with this verb. Me encanta la música. (I like music very much.) Nos interesa la clase. (The class interests us.) Me faltan diez dólares para ir al cine. (I do not have ten dollars to go to the movies.) How can I get DL to add these verbs to the tree?
If the the given sentence was: "My parents like expensive cars" you would use gustan because "coches" would be plural. Beer is a weird noun in seemingly Spanish and English because it is used in the singular, although it is "understood" to be in the plural. Grammarians certainly have a sophisticated name for that, but I am not able to think of it at the moment.