For any English speakers who are being driven crazy by the "me gusta ___" construction, I hope that this explanation will help. The Spanish version of "me gusta" sentences will not translate in exact word-for-word order into English. The Spanish sentence structure and the typical English translation are exactly backward of each other. First of all, "me" in Spanish does not mean "I" in English; "me" in Spanish means "me" in English. "Me" is NOT the subject of the sentence. Second, to understand what the subject is, read "me gusta chocolate" backward (chocolate gusta me--chocolate pleases me) to get a word order that makes sense in English). Even though the word "chocolate" comes after the verb in Spanish, chocolate is the subject. Gustar is matching chocolate, not "me." So, "me gusta chocolate" becomes "me gustan chocolates" in the plural. Typically, we translate these sentences "I like chocolate(s)" which captures the idea in a sentence structure that is more normal to us. What looks to us like a backward sentence structure is the reason we are all suffering headaches with this construction.
Yes, a BIG headache for a person like me, who learned English first! Now I have to adjust myself to the Spanish ways of grammar, and so on.
Each language has its own rules and principles, and you can not just automatically think through the language you had already learned. Alas, that is the problem and hindrance sometimes to start learning a new language, because consciously or unconsciously you are trying to apply the old learned rules to the new language you are trying to learn.
Ese, eso, esa are adjectives and are used in front of nouns to describe the nouns. That (esa) apple (manzana) is mine. Que and that are relative pronouns that are used to replace a noun when we want to embed a repeated noun from a less important sentence into a more important sentence. For example, The gift is on the table + The gift is for her. The sentence plus embedding looks like this: “The gift (the gift is on the table) is for her.” Saying “the gift” twice is awkward so we replace the second noun (and it’s adjectives and any adverbs) with that (que). The gift THAT (QUE) is on the table is for her. (El regalo que está sobre la mesa es para ella.) SUMMARY: Que is a substitute for an embedded noun, a pronoun; ese, eso, and esa are descriptors for nouns, adjectives.
If you have any questions or if I’ve only made this as clear as mud for you, let me know and I’ll try again.
You need to be aware that gustar does not work like the English "to like", but rather backwards. The thing that you like is the subject and thus determines the conjugation of the verb, and the person who is liking will be the object.
- Me gusta ese chico. - I like that boy.
- Nos gusta ese chico. - We like that boy.
- Les gusta ese chico. - They like that boy.
- Me gustan esos chicos. - I like those boys.
- Nos gustan esos chicos. - We like those boys.
- Les gustan esos chicos. - They like those boys.
Because in Spanish the subject of "gustar" is the direct object in English, that is, "ese chico alto", third person singular = "gusta".
Me gustan las bananas 3rd person plural
Me gusta la música = I like music 3rd person singular
Les gusto a esas chicas = Those girls like me, 1st person singular