1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "My father likes playing the …

"My father likes playing the piano."

Translation:A mi padre le gusta tocar el piano.

June 15, 2018



Hopefully, this helps to explain gustar and encantar

In English, we commonly say "I like the dog" or "I love the dog." The English construction of this idea is "person - verb - subject."

In Spanish, there is no way in Spanish to say "I like" or "I love" in this way. (Saying "I love you" in a romantic sense uses different verbs, amar.) Instead, Spanish uses the verbs gustar and encantar.

To start with, gustar does not mean "to like." Gustar literally means "to please" as in "The dog pleases me." "A mi me gusta el perro" appears to use the same "person - verb - subject" construction as English "I like the dog." However, it literally translates to "To me - is pleasing - the dog" or "The dog pleases me."

Likewise, encantar does not mean "to love." Encantar literally means "to enchant" as in "The dog enchants me." "A mi me encanta el perro" appears to use the same "person - verb - subject" construction as English "I love the dog." However, it literally translates as "To me - is enchanting - the dog" or "The dog enchants me."

Good so far? Okay, now here comes a tricky part....


Because both gustar and encantar focus on what is being liked (rather than on the person who likes them) they conjugate according to what is being liked.

A mi me gusta el perro = The dog is pleasing to me = I like the dog

A mi me gustan los perros = The dogs are pleasing to me = I like the dogs

A mi me encanta el perro = The dog is enchanting to me = I love the dog

A mi me encantan los perros = The dogs are enchanting to me = I love the dogs

Still with me? Okay, now here's yet another tricky part....


Here's the construction:

Me gusta = I like

Nos gusta = We like

Te gusta = You (informal) like

Le gusta = He/she/you (formal) like

Les gusta: They / you (plural) like


A nostros nos gustan los perros = The dogs are pleasing to us = We like the dogs.

A ti te gusta el perro = The dog is pleasing to you = You like the dog

A ella le gusta el perro = The dog is pleasing to her = She likes the dog

A ellos les encantan los perros = The dogs are enchanting to them = They love the dogs

Because "me gusta" always means "I like" we generally drop the clarifying "a mi". If you use "a mi me gusta el perro" in Spanish it sounds like emphasis. As in how an American might say, "I don't know about you but I really like the dog." Instead, in Spanish we would generally use the simple form, "Me gusta el perro."

Same for nos gusta and te gusta.

However, you can see the problem with "le gusta" and "les gusta". Often the speaker needs to clarify just who "le" or "les" is referring to. So...

Me gusta el perro = I like the dog

Te gusta el perro = You like the dog

Le gusta el perro = [Who?] likes the dog? All you've told me is that someone [singular] likes the dog. I still don't know exactly who. Aunt Mary? A zombie? The neighbor's cat? Without context, I don't know.

Les gusta el perro = [Who?] like the dog. Same problem, just plural. Okay, great. Someone [plural] likes the dog. Who? My aunts? Zombies? All the cats? I don't know.

So we use "a [x]" to clarify and let us know exactly who likes the dog.

A mi padre le gusta el perro = To my father - is pleasing - the dog = The dog is pleasing to my father = My father likes the dog.

A mis padres les gusta le perro = To my parents - is pleasing - the dog = The dog is pleasing to my parents = My parents like the dog

~ And verbs? What if you like to do something? Always use the infinitive.

Me gusta tocar el piano = To me - is pleasing - to play - the piano = I like to play piano or I like playing the piano ~

Anyway, I hope this helps.


I wish there was a save a comment feature, because this was really helpful.


Copy the chat and save it in your notes app. Create a Spanish tip folder.


Good idea, thank you


How do i copy the chat?


It's easier to do it on laptop, I'll update on the mobile.


A bit dense maybe but please, how do I copy the chat?


It's easy to do it on laptop, I'll update a way on the phone.


This made is so clear. Thanks!!


Great explanation!


glad i actually stuck around to read it because the ending was my biggest problem. thx


DamonMarty you ought to be a teacher. What you said was amazing. That cleared up a bunch of fog. Thank You


SUPER HELPFUL! Thank you for that breakdown.


Wow! Thank you for your time explaining this! It's very confusing.


A very good explanation!


SIMPLY EXCELLENT. I have been trying to understand the "why" of the a [x] (reflexive) for w while now, and this was exactly what I needed.


Why isn't it "Mi padre"? What is the A for?


A good question! I think it's because 'A' is used in the personal. However, it doesn't seem to work in all cases, which baffles me. For example 'A mi padre is correct, but, 'A mi hermano' is not! My problem is when to use the 'A' and when not to!


someone said previously that he had noticed that you put the 'a' on those instances where it is asking whether a person likes or loves etc ie: a Felipe le encanta tocar el piano, but not for this sentence...…. mis abuelos también son simpáticos. Once I had started noticing the construction of the sentence, it got easier to know when to put the 'a' or omit it. I hope this generalisation helps.


I just wrote out an explanation for this to another similar question, so forgive me for giving you a link to it:


A mi padre is defining the indirect object pronoun 'le' here.

This sentence translates to:

a mi padre - to my father

le gusta - it pleases him

tocar - to play

el piano - the piano

But because - to my father it pleases him to play the piano is a odd grammatical construct, it changes to my father likes...

Without A mi padre, le gusta tocar el piano would mean:

it/he/she/you (usted) pleases to play the piano.

So you need the A mi padre to define what 'le' is referring to.


Yes... but is there a specific rule for the "A"? Could it not have just been "Mi padre"?


technically speaking, the rule is to use 'a' to clarify to whom.. but we don't use it all the time.. it's not a hard fast rule. IMO your answer should be accepted.. but hey.. I'm a native speaker.


I agree, the A is for emphasis that it is "MY father" however there is no specified reason for emphasis here. Same as "A mi no me gusta" it means the same as "No me gusta"


The Tips say that besides being used for emphasis, it is sometimes used just because the speaker chooses to say it that way.

[deactivated user]

    why is an "A" needed before mi padre?


    I an wondering what the A is for -why not just Mi Padre?


    If DL has determined that the answer should start with "A", then indicate that in the hints on hover !


    Is the "el" necessary before "piano"?


    I think it was necessary,but waiting for confirmation....


    Can somebody explain the rule for when to use el or not to use el? For example: "A mi me gusta aprender español" "A mi padre le gusta tocar el piano" What's the difference?


    I would like to know the same thing. As in el baloncesto & el beisbol. Why not simply 'Me gusta beisbol"? I like THE baseball?? Really????


    DamonMarty thats the best explanation ive seen for gustar! But i didnt see you say anything about se gusta, is that a thing? I know duchar is to bathe i think and you got me ducho, te duchas, se ducha. Since theres me gusta, te gusta, le gusta, les gusta, nos gusta...is there se gusta? And would you use it if you didnt use le gusta?


    Is the "le" necessary?


    Why is it acceptable to write: 'A mi padre' but not 'A mi hermano'?


    I think "A mi hermano" would be an acceptable way to specify "my brother" in place of "my father" in a "gustar" or "encantar" sentence construction. Can you provide an example in which it wasn't accepted? I missed this. It may be a software error that needs to be reported, if it hasn't already been addressed.


    Would someone explain why the infinitive "tocar" is used instead of the third person "toca"?


    would really like an explanation on when to use "A" beyond frustrated at this point


    Yes good bit of help there, thanks.


    How about "A mi papá le gusta tocar el piano"?


    I think "padre" is more formal.


    Is 'A mi padre' different from 'mi padre' while speaking?


    What is the difference of jugar and tocar?


    Jugar is usually for playing game , while tocar is mainly for playing music .


    "Jugar" is used for playing in general, not just playing sports. "Tocar", as Kishlay said, is used for playing music.


    If duolingo are going to introduce us to 'a'. Then please replace all previous lesson with it to. I still learning to say 'mi abuelo' when practising previous lessons.


    Why is mi sometimes spelled with an accent (mí) and sometimes without an accent (mi)? What is the rule here?


    Me = mi

    My = mí


    Short but sweet, thanks!


    "El piano le gusta tocar a mi padre" I writed this. Is that false?


    When i have to add A


    Why'A'in front of mi??


    Read the Tips, if you can, there is a good explanation there.


    Sometimes you want papà and padre is wrong, other times it's padre and papa is wrong -


    In what context is jugar wrong and tocar is the best word for playing


    Why do you have to say "A" before a person's name?


    The best way to do Duolingo is not on a phone app, but on a computer, because the computer program has Tips before every lesson, and your question is explained very well in the Tips. Also, reading the discussions helps a lot. Evidently you can't see all the discussion comments on your app either because your question has been answered here already. You can access the Duolingo computer program on smartphones as well as on PCs. I don't know why Duolingo does not make all the features available on all the apps.


    Thank you! Good to know. I can’t always use a computer so must settle for doing lessons on my iPhone.


    Why the A at the beginning?


    Why is it "tocar" and not "toca"?


    With "gustar" you have to use the infinitive "tocar". Similar to how in English we say "He plays the guitar" but "He likes to play the guitar".


    why isn't it : A mi padre le gusta tocar al piano ?


    Why is "a" necessary


    Can anyone explain to me whem am I supposed to use "A" in the beginning of a sentence, I just wrote "mi padre", instead of "A mi padre" and it's incorrect


    I used jugar instead of tocar and it was wrong, but dont they both mean to play?


    "Tocar" means "to touch". It is used when playing musical instruments that you use your hands to play. "Jugar" means "to play". It is used to mean play sports, to play games, to play for fun....

    Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.