Expressing Likes and Dislikes in Spanish
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Expressing Likes and Dislikes in Spanish

Maybe you like learning languages, swimming, or going to parties. Or maybe you dislike studying, physical activity, and social events—whatever it is you like or dislike, this article aims to teach you how to express that in Spanish!

What is it that you like/dislike?

Remember, when you’re saying what you like and dislike, you can refer to various things. You can talk about a noun:

No me gusta la música pop.I don’t like pop music.

You can talk about an action (a verb):

No me gusta nadar.I don’t like swimming,

You can talk about an idea or concept. This might require the subjunctive!

No me gusta que me mientas tanto.I don’t like that you lie to me so much.

Saying that you like something

Let’s start with your ‘gustos’ (likes)! There are several phrases that you can use to say that you like something. Most of them are constructions with verbs. 

A lot of these constructions can confuse students a bit, because they’re not as simple as ‘I like X.’ Instead, they take the form of ‘X pleases/amuses/fascinates me.’  

When we learn basic sentences in Spanish, we often use a simple subject-verb(-object) word order, like in these examples:

Yo hablo.I speak.
Pedro escribe cartas.Pedro writes letters.

When we throw in some indirect object pronouns, things get a little more sophisticated.

Yo te hablo.I speak to you.
Pedro me escribe cartas.Pedro writes letters to me.

(If we want to, we can add a part that emphasizes who the ‘recipient’ of the action is, for example, ‘Yo te hablo a ti.’ If you want to know more about direct and indirect object pronouns, we’ve got you covered!)

Gustar,’ which means ‘to please’ is just a verb like any other; don’t be intimidated by it! The reason students get confused is that it gets mistranslated as ‘to like.’ Technically, ‘gustar’ does not mean ‘to like.’ It means ‘to please.’ If X pleases Pedro, then Pedro likes X. 

Let’s use the verb gustar to begin with, to see what happens when we use verbs with indirect object pronouns. You can have a lot of fun switching up the word order here!

*Some of the sentences are grammatically unnatural (so we recommend you don’t use them), but they help with explanation, so bear with us!

GustarTo please
La música gusta.*Music pleases.
La música gusta a Pedro.*Music pleases Pedro.
La música le gusta a Pedro.Music pleases Pedro.
A Pedro le gusta la música.To Pedro, music is pleasing.
La música le gusta.Music pleases him/her (i.e. he/she likes music.)
Le gusta la música.Music pleases him/her (i.e. he/she likes music.)
La música me gusta.Music pleases me. (i.e. I like music.)
Me gusta la música.Music pleases me. (i.e. I like music.)

You can see that it’s very unnatural to say things like, ‘To Pedro, music is pleasing.’ And that’s why we translate it as ‘Pedro likes music.’ So if you’re ever confused about word order, remember that ‘to like’ is a figurative English translation, but that ‘gustar’ actually means ‘to please.’

GustarTo please
Me gusta la música.I like music. (Music pleases me.)
Encantar (me encanta)To make happy (I love)
Bailar me encanta.I love dancing. (Dancing makes me really happy.)
DivertirTo amuse
Me divierten los dibujos animados.Cartoons amuse me.
FascinarTo fascinate
Me fascina la ciencia.Science fascinates me.
Hacer reírTo make laugh
Mi hermana me hace reír cada día.My sister makes me laugh every day.
Hacer sonreírTo make smile
Me haces sonreír.You make me smile.
InteresarTo interest
Me interesa mucho el tema.The topic really interests me.
AmarTo love
Te amo.I love you.
¡X mola! (Madrid slang)X rocks!
¡Lo máximo! (Colombian slang)Awesome!

Saying why you like it!

Once you’ve said that you like something, it makes sense to justify your opinion with a reason. 

First off, you’ll need some ways to say ‘because.’

Porque esBecause it’s
Ya que esBecause/seeing as it’s
Puesto que esBecause/seeing as it’s

Here’s a list of positive adjectives to describe a thing that you like.

Positive adjectives

AgradablePleasant
AmableFriendly
BuenoGood
DeliciosoDelicious
DivertidoFun
EstupendoStupendous
ExcelenteExcellent
FabulosoFabulous
FácilEasy
FantásticoFantastic
FascinanteFascinating
FenomenalPhenomenal
InteligenteIntelligent
InteresanteInteresting
MagníficoMagnificent
MaravillosoMarvellous
PreciosoBeautiful
SimpáticoNice
ÚtilUseful

Saying what you dislike

None of us can pretend to like everything. It’s just as important to be able to express what you don’t like. So, let’s look at how to describe your ‘disgustos’/‘aversiones’/‘antipatías’ (dislikes)!

Negative verb constructions

No me gusta cocinar.I don’t like cooking.
Las matemáticas no me gustan.I don’t like mathematics.
No me gusta X para nada.I don’t like X at all.
Odio X.I hate X.
AburrirTo bore
Me aburren sus mentiras.His lies bore me.
CansarTo tire
Tus mentiras me cansan.Your lies tire me.
FastidiarTo annoy
Me fastidia su voz.Her voice annoys me.
IrritarTo irritate
Me irrita aquella película.That movie irritates me.
MolestarTo annoy
Daniela me molesta.Daniela annoys me.
No me va X.X doesn’t suit me.
Detesto X.I detest X.
Aborrezco X.I abhor X.

And here are some negative adjectives to explain why you dislike something!

AburridoBoring
AsquerosoDisgusting
ComplicadoComplicated
DifícilDifficult
HorribleHorrible
MaloBad
MolestoAnnoying
RepugnanteRevolting

If these are too strong for you, then you could use the word ‘demasiado’ with a more neutral adjective. It means ‘too.’ For example,

No me gusta X porque para mí es demasiado …I don’t like X because for me it’s too …
largolong
científicosciencey
rosapink
dulcesweet
calientehot

Sitting on the fence

Sometimes you don’t necessarily like or dislike something. Here are some phrases to use for those in-between situations:

ValeIt’s okay.
Me da igual.It’s the same to me.
Está bien.It’s okay.
La verdad es que prefiero … The truth is that I prefer …

Quiz

For each example, choose the best translation from the options given.

1. Me gusta bailar porque es divertido.

     a.  I love to dance because it’s fun.

     b.  I like to dance because it’s fun.

     c.  I like to dance because it’s boring.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

  b. I like to dance because it’s fun.

2. Detesto la música rap.

     a.  I love rap music.

     b.  I hate rap music.

     c.  I’m indifferent to rap music.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

  b. I hate rap music.

3. Mi gato me hace sonreír.

     a.  My cat makes me smile.

     b.  My cat makes me happy.

     c.  My cat is smiley.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

  a. My cat makes me smile.

4. Me aburren los documentales.

     a.  Documentaries excite me.

     b.  Documentaries upset me.

     c.  Documentaries bore me.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

  c. Documentaries bore me.

5. ¿Mis gustos culinarios? Me encantan los mariscos y aprecio el vino tinto.

     a.  My culinary likes? I love seafood and I appreciate red wine.

     b.  My culinary dislikes? I love seafood and I appreciate red wine.

     c.  My culinary likes? I like seafood and don’t mind wine.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

  a. My culinary likes? I love seafood and I appreciate red wine.

We like it when you learn!

Hopefully in this article you’ve learned a few different ways of expressing your likes and dislikes in Spanish. Practice a little every day to help solidify what you’ve learned!

About the Author Annabel Beilby

Annabel is a language-enthusiast from the UK. She studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton (with an Erasmus study year in Madrid!) and recently graduated. She has interests across the Spanish-speaking world, and is a fan of language in general.

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