With gustar, the literal translation is "Music is pleasing to my sister."
Gustar is preceded by a required indirect object pronoun (in this case le) which indicates that the person pleased is 3rd person singular. (My sister = 3rd person singular = le)
Then to clarify who the le is, an a-phrase is added: a mi hermana.
My father likes music. A mi padre le gusta la música.
My friends like music. A mis amigos les gusta la música.
The only way to indicate possession in Spanish is by using genitive case. For example, in "The music is pleasing to my sister/A mi hermana le gusta la música," "to my sister" and "a mi hermana" are equivalent genitive prepositional phrases indicating ownership, which Spanish and English share because of their Romance Language roots.
Indirect object pronouns are mandatory Spanish grammar even when a sentence contains an indirect object noun. Because indirect object nouns are in genitive case (and hence in prepositional phrase form), they can go either at the beginning of a sentence, as in "A mi hermana le gusta la música" (To her, my sister, the music, is pleasing), or at the end, as in "Le gusta la música a mi hermana" (The music is pleasing to her, my sister).
It doesn't actually make a lot of sense either. The commenter is confusing grammatical terms here, so you shouldn't pay too much heed.
The important thing here is that gustar requires that the person who's liking the thing is an indirect object. That's why le is used here (not lo or la), and why the sister gets a preposition a.
English is a Germanic language, yes. But it's heavily influenced by Romance languages, particularly Old French. (That's why you speak of "languages", not of "tongues" or "speeches".) Its grammar is mostly Germanic, though.
There are more, smaller, Romance languages than just those five. Like Catalan (Duo even has a course for that one), Occitan, Friulian, Romansch, Sardinian, and others you probably never heard about. But the big five are the only ones that are spoken on the national level.
Zrizt, you can say "A mí me gusta el chocolate." In this case, the "a mí" part doesn't add any meaning since me already makes it clear who the liker is. But you can add it for emphasis.
Don't try to match English grammar to the Spanish sentence. Gustar is a verb that English does not have (unlike many other European languages), so the grammar never quite adds up.
With gustar you slap an A in front of the sentence, same with encantar or a few other verbs. The thing that is confusing me is what is "la" doing in front of "musica" ? If you say "me gusta escucho musica en mi dormitorio" it's cool. You can omit the "la". However, then "la" just pops back up after gustar as if it belongs there. "my sister likes the music"...me tarzan, spanish make the headache happen.
The la is necessary because the sentence in spanish reads "Music is pleasing to my sister" and music is the subject. Subject nouns require the article in front in spanish. We learned earlier that "Summer is fun" had to be translated as "El verano es divertido" So we need la música.
OP edit: Most of this entry is incorrect and left here only for the sake of the discussion below. Ryagon has the corrected information and we further discuss this below.
'A mi hermana' is the Direct Object of this sentence. You could use the direct object pronoun 'la' to replace - 'a mi hermana'.
If the direct object is a specific person it requires the personal 'a'. When you are referring to a member of a category of people it is not needed. 'Busco a mi novia' - specifically 'my girlfriend' vs Busco una novia' - a girlfriend in general.
This is what DL was referring to in the 'tips' for this lesson: If we want to add a name (for example, To Miguel traveling is pleasing) we need to use 'a' (so, A Miguel le gusta viajar). ¿A Miguel le gusta viajar? Does Miguel like traveling?
The original sentence could be rewritten as 'Se la gusta la musica' - 'The music is pleasing to her' but the direct object pronoun 'la' (la gusta - not la música) may not be clear as to whom the 'la' is. In those cases (when you aren't pointing at a 'her' or to indicate the 'her' is your sister) you add the phrase 'a mi hermana' to explain (and/or) omit the direct object pronoun 'la'. 'A mi hermana le gusta la música'.
Certain pronouns, such as alguien and nadie, always require the personal a when used as direct objects, even when they refer to no specific person.
This assessment is wrong for three reasons:
- "Mi hermana" is not a direct object here because
- Gustar is an intransitive verb in this meaning (def. 3).
- Even if it were a direct object, you'd still have to use la as long as that object does not appear after the verb.
Gustar (and its handful of friends) is a bit of an odd verb. It doesn't take direct objects, but only has a subject and an indirect object. In this case, "la música" is the subject, and "mi hermana" is the object. As you correctly stated, a closer English translation would be of the form "The music is pleasing to my sister." It's custom for Spanish sentences that contain gustar-like verbs to begin with the object and subsequently have the subject after the verb:
- A la maestra le gusta la mesa nueva. = La mesa nueva le gusta a la maestra. - The teacher likes the new table. / The new table is pleasing to the teacher.
- A mí me faltan dos lápices. = Dos lápices me faltan a mí. - I'm missing two pencils. / Two pencils are missing from me.
That is why you have le in front of gustar, and won't ever find "la gusta" or "lo gusta" (again, in the meaning of "to like/to please").
As for the third problem, if you mix up the standard word order of a sentence and put a direct or indirect object in front of the verb, you also need to add the respective object pronoun. (See section 5.2 in this grammar definition.)
- Llamo a mi madre. - A mi madre la llamo. - I am calling my mother.
- El hombre no puede creer eso. - Eso no lo puede creer el hombre. - The man cannot believe that.
- Ayudé al maestro. - Al maestro lo ayudé. - I helped the teacher.
You've deepened my understanding of defective verbs. I've been following you for a while (not like that) and even credited you (positively) in my book.
One of the learning objectives for this Skill is 'the personal a'
I think my error arose from the rules that 'the 'personal a' is used (only) for direct objects that refer to a specific person' (https://www.thoughtco.com/the-personal-a-preposition-3078139) and that 'defective verbs don't take direct objects'.
Researching I find: 'Keep in mind that 'a' is a very common preposition with a variety of translations. The basic rule here pertains to its use preceding a direct object, not in the numerous other cases where a preposition is called for' (Same ref as above).
'A prepositional phrase beginning with 'a' can be added to the sentence for either clarification or emphasis, further indicating who is being pleased. Even when the prepositional phrase is used, gustar still needs the indirect object pronoun (https://www.thoughtco.com/using-gustar-properly-3079750).'
All of which is is confirming your entry on the defective verbs
When I look at 'a mi hermana' as a prepositional phrase it leaves me here: That that phrase is operating as indirect object because it clarifies the indirect pronoun 'le'.
Should the rule "'the personal a' is used (only) for direct objects that refer to a specific person" be rewritten as '''the personal a' is used (only) for objects that refer to a specific person' such that 'hermana' is the object of the preposition 'a'?
Is this a better understanding of 'the personal a'?
Or was 'wake and bake' a bad idea today?
Which of these rules you use is up to you (because in the end it doesn't actually matter), but I'd say the most accurate would be this:
- A "personal a" is used for direct objects that are a specific person, a personified entity, or a group thereof.
- Indirect objects are preceded by a preposition a.
Indirect objects get an a in Spanish, regardless of their personhood or if they're animate at all. This a serves the same function as the "to" that's often used for indirect objects in English.
- A la Tierra le ocurren muchas cosas. - Many things are happening to the Earth.
- A los árboles no les gusta el frío. - The trees do not like the cold weather.
It's a bit difficult to find sources for this, since inanimate indirect pronouns are a bit uncommon and every guide only seems to busy itself with pronouns. But the RAE entry for a contains a brief of these rules in deff. 1 and 2, and Reverso contains a few relevant sentences.