Gustar / to please!
In class today, when introducing me gusta / ¿te gusta? I began with a simple question to our bilingual students: what does <<s'il vous plaît>> mean? The automatic response was <<Please!>> and the automatic response was, of course, wrong!
Naturally <<s'il vous plaît>> means the equivalent of <<Please!>> when used colloquially, but it's structural meaning is rather more complicated, for it actually means <<if it is pleasing to you>> or <<if it pleases you>>; and this is precisely how gustar is used in Spanish.
Thus, me gusta means literally it --[ unspecified] -- is pleasing to me / pleases me; and ¿te gusta? means literally <<is it -- [unspecified] pleasing to you?>> or <<does it -- [again unspecified] please you?>>.
It is important to understand this difference from the first encounters with me gusta and ¿te gusta? because it is important to distinguish structurally between I like, the standard translation for me gusta, and it is pleasing to me / it pleases me, the literal structural meaning. Clearly, it is also essential to avoid, from the start, the false translation equivalence of me / I, gusta / like ...
for me is an indirect object pronoun (to me) and is not the first person singular subject pronoun yo / I. This fact needs to be appreciated from the start.
Now it is easier to progress from me gusta el coche / I like the car or the eternal me gusta la cerveza / I like beer to the plural forms me gustan los chicos / I like boys or me gustan las chicas / I like girls. The other forms of gustar will appear at a later date. For now, we will concentrate on the simple questions and answers:
¿Te gusta la clase de español? / Do you like the Spanish class?
Sí, me gusta la clase de español. / Yes, I like the Spanish class.
¿Te gustan los chicos / las chicas en esta clase? / Do you like the boys / girls in this class?
Sí, me gustan los chicos / las chicas en esta clase. / Yes, I like the boys / girls in this class.
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