Special Verbs in Spanish: “gustar”, “encantar”, “parecer”

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In Spanish, some special verbs form verbal idioms.

These verbs work backward. Most of these verbs are related to feelings, perceptions, and reactions like “gustar” (to like), “encantar” (to love) y “parecer” (to seem).

They don´t follow the same rules and sentence structure as the common verbs. So, we are going to explain to you the special verbs “gustar”, “encantar”, and “parecer” among others.

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Understanding special verbs

We say that the gustar, encantar y parecer types of verbs work backward because the subject goes after de verb and the complement goes before the verb, opposite to the normal structure of the Spanish sentence.

These verbs are also different because what is normally the subject becomes an indirect object. That means that the person or thing is affected by the verb.

Let’s say that Laura likes chocolate. In Spanish chocolate is the subject of the verb. Laura would be an indirect object and you’ll need to add the preposition a” and the pronoun le” (to him/to her) to mention her.  See:

A Laura le gusta el chocolate.

Laura likes chocolate.

Other pronouns are me” (to me), te” (to you), “nos” (to us) and “les” (to you/to them). Le” takes the third person singular masculine and feminine, while les” is for the second and the third person plural masculine and feminine.

A José y María les encanta el fútbol.

Jose and Marial love soccer.

Me parece bien.

It seems good to me.

Nos gustan las películas viejas.

We like old movies.

But if you are not using a name or a noun you may need to use a mí, a ti, a él, a ella, a él, a nosotros, a ellos, a ellas, a ustedes, a ellas, or a ellos, according to the case. This is to clarify or emphasize who you are referring to:

A mí me parece bonito el vestido.

The dress seems beautiful to me.

A nosotros nos encanta bailar.

We love to dance.

A ustedes no les gustan los vegetales.

You don’t like vegetables.

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You will find here some exercises to practice!

The present of the special verbs in Spanish

How to conjugate special verbs like gustar, encantar, and parecer is easy because you only have to learn two verb forms per tense, one for singular nouns and verbs, and another for plural nouns.

For example, in the present when the verb gustar agrees in singular you use “gusta”, and in the plural, you use “gustan”. For verb encantar is the same, “encanta” y “encantan”.

Grammar note: In the indefinite past tense, the forms for gustar are “gustó” and “gustaron“. In the imperfect past tense “gustaba” and “gustaban” and in the future “gustará” and “gustarán“.

Other special verbs that take this conjugation are “importar” (to matter), “faltar” (to miss / to lack), interesar” (to interest), faltar” (to lack / to have left), molestar” (to bother), and picar” (to itch).

Me gusta esa casa.

I like that house.

Me importan mis clases.

My classes matter to me / are important to me.

A nosotros nos encanta el pollo.

We love chicken.

A los vecinos les molestan nuestras fiestas.

Our parties bother our neighbors.

Grammar note: On the other hand, parecer has the form “parece” and “parecen” in the present, “pareció” and “parecieron” in the indefinite past tense; parecía” and “parecían” in the imperfect past tense and parecerá” and “parecerán” in the future.

Other special verbs ending in -er are “apetecer” (to feel like), and “doler” (hurt).

Verb tip: Doler has a spelling chance, though. It´s “duele” and “duelen” in the present.

Me parece un buen momento.

This moment seems Good to me.

Nos parecen importantes tus ideas.

Your ideas seem important to us.

Me apetece una copa de vino.

I feel like having a cup of wine. / I fancy a cup of wine.

Al niño le duele el dedo.

The boy’s finger hurts.

These verbs can be followed by other verbs. You write the verb directly without any preposition before the verb. And if you mention two or more verbs the conjugation is still singular.

Check these examples:

A Marina le gusta correr.

Marina likes to run.

A ti te encanta cocinar y limpiar.

You love to cook and to clean.

A la gente le encanta salir, ir de compras, y comer en un restaurante.

People love to go out, to go shopping and to eat at a restaurant.

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Meaning and use of the special verbs

Take into account that some of these verbs, like parecer, can be conjugated in the normal way and use the subject, verb, and complement structure.

  • Usually, they have different meanings. In that case, “parecer” can be translated as “to look like”.

Yo parezco un payaso.

I look like a clown.

  • “Encantar” also has different meanings:

Ella encanta a todos con sus palabras.

She bewitches everyone with her words.

Here we have used it like “to charm someone or something”. If conjugated normally, it means to enchant or bewitch.

  • Gustar has also a similar use but it’s usually for formal constructions or literature:

El señor Hugo gusta de recibir invitados.

Mr. Hugo enjoys having guests.


Como usted guste.

As you like/wish.

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Special verbs in Spanish…

“Picar” can also mean to cut and “faltar” is also not to attend.

With this explanation, you now can recognize the constructions of these verbs and understand them.

It is important because all these verbs and verb forms are very common as well as the indirect object pronouns.

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