I trust that those of you who have been following these articles have been discovering all the new sentences you’ve been able to make and of course going round practising them! No doubt you’ve got into all sorts of muddles as well, but that’s a normal part of language learning, so no problem there.

First things first; before we learn anything new, let’s look at the answers to the homework. You had to translate the following sentences into English – so here they are with the answers.

No quiero volver a casa hoy. – I don’t want to return home today.

¿Quieres bailar conmigo? – Do you want to dance with me?

Voy a hablar con mi amigo. – I’m going to speak to my friend.

¿Vas a beber vino? – Are you going to drink wine?

No necesito comer ahora. – I don’t need to eat now.

¿Puedo aprender más? – Can I learn more?

This month we are going to add another “first person” expression to our collection – Me gusta meaning “I like”.

Me gusta works slightly differently from the other first person phrases we have learnt so far, because although we translate it as “I like”, it doesn’t strictly mean that literally. It actually means: “it pleases me”. In a way you don’t even need to know that, but some people get themselves in a pickle because they think that the “me” bit means “I”. They tend to mispronounce it like the English word “me” and they end up saying things like me quiero for “I like”, and me necesito for “I need”. That is totally wrong!!! We use quiero on its own for “I want” and necesito on its own for I need. If we wanted to add the word for “I”, this is yo. You just have to accept that Me gusta is different from the others and wait for the full explanation to appear later on. Glad we got that cleared up!

Me gusta (“it pleases me” = “I like”) can link to a huge range of verbs just as the other expressions we learnt before. We can say:

Me gusta cocinar – I like cooking

Me gusta bailar – I like dancing

Me gusta trabajar – I like working

or maybe for most of us that should be:

No me gusta trabajar – I don’t like working

No me gusta beber – I don’t like drinking

It takes all sorts!

Another thing that has to be said to help us poor confused English speakers is that in English we use the “-ing” form of the verb with “I like” – cooking, dancing, working, drinking, but in Spanish we don’t do this. If it helps, we can think that what we are really saying is: “I like to cook”, “I like to dance” etc, so after Me gusta, we always use the infinitives of the verb (the forms ending in –ar, -er, or –ir) and never alter them to anything else, despite how much we may be tempted to do so.

Something else we can do now is make even longer sentences with all kinds of things we already know. Here are two more words that can help us to do this: “but” which is pero, and “also” or “as well” which is también.

Here is an example:

Me gusta bailar y me gusta beber también. – I like dancing and I like drinking as well.

Necesito dormir pero voy a trabajar. – I need to sleep but I’m going to work.

The next lesson is the need to widen our range of words as we’re beginning to get a bit limited, but for now here are a couple of things you can have a go at home. How would we say in Spanish?

“I like talking, but I need to work”.

“Can I eat and drink as well?”

Answers as ever next month and lots of new verbs to look forward to! You see, you’re even looking forward to verbs now!

Jane Cronin’s “Step by Step Spanish” articles are now available as e-books at www.janecronin.eu where you can also obtain Jane’s brand new “Step by Step Internet Spanish” course.