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Object pronouns

TCAC2
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Here's an example of a sentence:

Él les escribe una nota a ustedes.

It seems that "les" is correct instead of "le" because "ustedes" is plural. In other words, the indirect object decides whether to use "le/les".

But here is another sentence:

A mis padres les gusta la cerveza.

Here, "les" must refer to "mis padres," because "la cerveza" is not plural. And "mis padres" is the subject of that sentence, not the indirect object, right? Also it seems that "gusta" must refer to "la cerveza" (since it's not "gustan")...

It would be great if someone could explain this to me. :)

5 years ago

11 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/nightshifted

Verbs like gustar work "backwards" when compared to English. It has the idea of "is pleasing to" which means that the thing that is liked is the subject and the person who likes it is the indirect object.

http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/gustar.htm

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TCAC2
TCAC2
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Thanks! Very helpful.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rocko2012
rocko2012
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"Gustar" is really "to please" not "to like". "The beer pleases my parents" ,"beer" does the action here. The verb conjugation is for "beer" (third person singular present tense, "gusta"). We just word it with "like" in English usually.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

Gustar and its kin take indirect object pronouns. Gustar means 'to be pleasing to' In 'A mis padres les gusta la cerveza" cerveza is the subject, and it is 'pleasing to' mis padres, and that is reflected by the indirect object pronoun, les. The indirect object pronoun MUST be used even if it is clarified bi "A mis padres" and the noun subject gets an article (la cerveza). We translate this mess as "My parents like beer" but that is by meaning, not grammar. 'Gustar' works the way "disgust" works in English. "Green Bay Packer fans disgust me." ;)

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Salxandra
Salxandra
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I still don't understand this completely. Could someone break down on a sample sentence, ie A mis padres les gusta la cerveza. ?

As in, if the subject is "la cerveza" why isn't it at the beginning of the sentence? The verb agrees with la cerveza but, to me, the beer is not in the right spot for a subject. So, then, what's the direct object if the indirect object is "les" aka "a mis padres".

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ceaer
ceaer
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A literal translation would be something like: To my parents (them) pleasing is beer. As you've noticed, the syntax in that sentence is completely backwards and wrong... in English. Spanish syntax is a lot more flexible. The subject and object can move around. "Ella dice que tiene que ir" (She says she has to go) can also be expressed as "Dice ella que tiene que ir".

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Salxandra
Salxandra
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Yeah, I think I was struggling with trying to force English sentence structure onto Spanish. Knowing that the word order is more flexible in Spanish is helping. But, I haven't seen much evidence of Spanish word order flexibility other than the 'me gusta" situation and the dropping of subject pronouns. How common is the variable word order in Spanish or is it restricted to a few verbs? And, do these words, that have flipped word order, have a special name?

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ceaer
ceaer
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Pretty much any verb can have the subject either before or after it. We can only say, for instance, "The man and dog run" but in Spanish you could say either "El hombre y el perro corren" or "Corren el hombre y el perro". That's applicable to almost everything. Even with gustar, for instance you could say "Me gusta la música" or "La música me gusta" (although the first way is significantly more common)

In my experience, the variance from what we would consider the "normal" or "standard" structure is much more common in writing than in speech, especially literary writing (although it's not exclusive to literary writing... newspapers and things tend to use it a lot as well).

I'm not sure I understand your last question. Do you mean verbs like gustar specifically? (Others being molestar, faltar...) The ones that require an object pronoun? They are pronominal verbs or verbos pronominales

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

the structure for gustar and its friends is (A + noun/pronoun) + indirect object pronoun + verb + subject. A mis padres les gusta la cerveza. There is no direct object in this sentence.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vSkyguard
vSkyguard
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In high school, 'gustar' was the first verb we were taught. It made it much easier to differentiate between regular and irregular verbs, since we learned the unique one before we learned normal verb order. Shame they don't teach gustar first on this program, it can confuse people if not handled correctly. But I'll try my best, considering the circumstances. I'll give you two sentences, so you understand 'gustan' as well as 'gusta.'

"A mis padres les gusta la cervesa," conveniently translated: "My parents like beer," or "My parents are pleased by beer."

"A ella le gusta los zapatos," conveniently translated: "She likes the shoes," or "She is pleased by the shoes."

Broken-down, literal translations:

"A mis padres(my parents) les(them) gusta(it pleases) la cervesa(beer)." :: "Beer, it pleases them; my parents."

'Cervesa' is singular: use 'gusta.' 'Mis padres' is plural: use 'les'.

"A ella(she) le(her) gustan(they please) los zapatos(the shoes)." :: "The shoes, they please her; she."

'Los zapatos' is plural: use 'gustan.' 'Ella' is singular: use 'le.'

Think like Yoda. "My parents; them, it pleases. Beer."

I hope this helped! This is kinda hard for me to explain.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Talca
Talca
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Think of it this way: In English, the thing you like is the direct object. For ex. I like cats. En espanol, the thing you like is the subject. I like cats. Me gustan los gatos.

4 years ago